Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)
Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

Public Protector urged to investigate Joburg mayor after controversial appointment

By Karabo Ngoepe Time of article published Feb 28, 2021

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Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been urged to probe Joburg mayor Geoff Makhubo following his adviser’s appointment as acting chief executive of the Joburg Property Company (JPC).

Mkhwebane’s probe comes after businessman and politician Kenny Kunene’s complaint about Ruby Mathang’s appointment to oversee one of the city’s biggest budgets.

Kunene contends that this represents a dangerous conflict of interest and gives Makhubo direct control of a major City-owned entity that oversees a multibillion-rand budget in the city.

Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the office had received the complaint and they would be assessing it.

“The complainant alleges corruption and conflict of interest regarding the appointment of the special adviser to the executive mayor. The complaint will be assessed for jurisdiction and merit before a decision on the way forward can be made,” he said.

In the complaint, which the publication has seen, Kunene writes that the JPC’s former board, which was recently dissolved, had previously “refused an instruction from the mayor, disguised as repeated recommendations from his mayoral committee, that Mr Mathang should be instated as the acting CEO”.

“All of the former board’s chosen appointees to this role were rejected by the mayoral committee (Maycom), despite the mayoral committee, and the mayor as the shareholder of record, not having the power to overturn board decisions.”

Kunene told the public protector that the city’s own policies only permit Maycom to “note” acting appointments and not approve them.

He said this was the reason the former board, “chaired by independent property expert Caswell Rampheri, was dissolved by the shareholder”.

He claims that former chairperson Moeketsi Rabodila was reinstalled as the new board chair, “despite his involvement in previous irregularities at JPC, including a decision to irregularly convert the fixed-term contract of the chief financial officer to permanent”.

He added that the subsequent appointment of Mathang by the new board “is irregular in the extreme”.

“He is a political appointee in the mayor’s office. The ANC itself complained about the deployment of Christo Marais in an acting capacity due to him working in the mayor’s office during Herman Mashaba’s term, and yet this is what they are now doing, on a far larger scale and to an entity with a far greater budget,” said Kunene.

Mashaba labelled the appointment as “cadre deployment on steroids”.

He added that he had already challenged Mathang to investigate a land deal that saw Joburg City giving the Guptas a title deed to a land where a Gautrain station was built on.

“This was a personal friend, someone who was in the council for many years. I have requested Mr Mathang to investigate the land that was given to the Guptas for the construction of the Sandton City Gautrain station. Those guys never paid a single cent for that land, and we can’t get it back,” he said.

He said while he was mayor, he made appointments based on expertise and nothing else.

“If you look at the appointments I made in the City, I was not working based on friendship but on their knowledge, not who they knew. I want Mr Mathang to know that when we take over after the elections, he is going to be out,” said Mashaba.

Kunene claimed that Mathang had never worked as an official in the City and “was previously the mayoral committee member (MMC) for economic development, under which JPC falls. This once again points to a blurring of the lines between politicians and officials“.

Kunene said he complained: “because we can’t allow what happened in 2016 to repeat itself whereby Geoff Makhubo from 2015 masterminded the city funding the ANC election campaign through companies that were doing business with the city through Regiments Capital and (technology company) EOH.

“Makhubo admitted at the state capture commission that he was paid by Regiments while he was the finance MMC and he sat in a Maycom meeting that decided on the fate of a tailor-made deal for Regiments that was to be executed by JPC. He’s always had business interests at JPC. The EOH CEO and also the head of forensics at ENSAfrica also highlighted the corrupt relationship between Regiments, EOH and Makhubo. That was also presented to Zondo,” he said.

Kunene asked why Makhubo had not been suspended or asked to take leave despite these “damning allegations”.

Attempts to get comments from Makhubo and Mathang were unsuccessful.

[email protected]

The Sunday Independent

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