Politics / 6 May 2019, 08:00am / MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa is under pressure to act against Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s adverse findings against the minister concerning the purchase of a farm.
It was reported yesterday that Mkhwebane made a damning finding against Nkwinti for violating the executive ethics code and the Constitution in his previous role as the minister of rural development and land reform.
The report came the day before Mkhwebane is scheduled to hold a media briefing to release investigation reports at her Pretoria office today.
Yesterday, DA Limpopo premier candidate Jacques Smalle said Ramaphosa should be decisive and fully comply with the findings and remedial actions specified by Mkhwebane.
“The DA urges President Ramaphosa to indicate his commitment to eradicating poor governance and corrupt behaviour by implementing the public protector’s remedial actions in their entirety.
“We believe the only appropriate step to take against Minister Nkwinti would be to fire him from his current post, as his ethical integrity has been compromised,” Smalle said.
He also said his party believed that as the country’s leaders, ministers should be held to the highest ethical standards.
Mkhwebane’s investigation was a sequel to a complaint by DA MP Thomas Walters, after reports surfaced in 2017 that Nkwinti had introduced a former ANC Luthuli House staff member, Errol Velile Present, to officials in his department.
It was reported at the time that the department had bought a R97million farm in Limpopo, and handed it to Present and his business partners eight months later.
Mkhwebane is said to have found that Nkwinti abused his office and that he had unduly influenced his department to purchase the Bekendvlei farm in 2011.
“Minister Nkwinti used his position to improperly benefit Mr Present, and thereby exposed himself to a situation involving the risk of a conflict between his responsibilities as a minister responsible for rural development and land reform and his personal relationship with Mr Present,” Mkhwebane is quoted to have said.
It was reported that Mkhwebane could not find evidence that Nkwinti received a bribe in exchange for the deal.
“The allegation that Minister Nkwinti received a R2m bribe as a reward for facilitating the transaction is without basis and could not be supported by evidence,” read the report.
The report also said Mkhwebane gave Ramaphosa 30 days from publication of the report to take the appropriate action against Nkwinti for the violations.
Ramaphosa has also been ordered to submit a report on any action taken or to be taken against Nkwinti to the National Assembly within 14 days of receiving the report.
Nkwinti, who is destined for retirement and is not returning as an MP after the elections, could not be reached for comment.