ANC spokesman Pule Mabe. File photo: ANA

JOHANNESBURG - The Gauteng economic development department regularly fails to meet targets and it is now clear that it is simply an instrument of "enrichment and nepotism" for MEC Lebogang Maile's friends, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

"According to a report in the Mail & Guardian, Gauteng MEC for economic development Lebogang Maile has dished out a whopping R29 million deal to his ANC comrade [ANC spokesman] Pule Mabe," DA Gauteng MPL Janet Semple said.

This deal was deemed unlawful by the provincial treasury. The contract was for the delivery of three-wheeler vehicles to be given to waste pickers to collect recyclable goods. Despite forking out R29 million in advance for the vehicles the department had not yet received a single vehicle, she said.

The company with which the deal was struck, Enviro Mobi, had now challenged the department’s decision to terminate the contract and was seeking an additional R9.7 million. Maile had been the centre of much controversy during his tenure as the political head of the department, Semple said.

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He had been accused of shielding Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) acting CEO Leah Manenzhe, who had been accused of intimidating staff and defying the findings of an elusive forensic investigation.

"Maile has also interfered with disciplinary hearings of two Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development staff, the CEO and the CCO, by insisting that they receive warning letters instead of going through disciplinary hearings. The department regularly fails to meet targets and it is now clear that it is simply an instrument of enrichment and nepotism for the MEC’s friends.

"The R29 million contract must be investigated as public money has been siphoned off to Maile’s ANC cronies. The DA will write to Gauteng treasury MEC Barbara Creecy to determine the status of recovering these funds and what action will be taken against those who entered into this unlawful contract," Semple said.

African News Agency/ANA