Public Service Commission (PSC) director-general Dovhani Colbert Mamphiswana. Picture: Facebook
Public Service Commission (PSC) director-general Dovhani Colbert Mamphiswana. Picture: Facebook

Calls for probe after PSC boss hired his ‘baby mama’

By Karabo Ngoepe and Mzilikazi Wa Afrika Time of article published Jul 19, 2020

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Johannesburg - Public Service Commission (PSC) director-general Dr Dovhani Colbert Mamphiswana must be investigated for fraud and corruption after he chaired a panel that recommended a woman he has a baby with be appointed as its head of ethics.

Mamphiswana, the champion of government integrity, and his “baby mama” failed to disclose their history.

The Sunday Independent exposed the woman’s dodgy appointment in January this year and advocate Smanga Sethene was instructed by the office of the state attorney to investigate. His report was released last week.

In his report, seen by Sunday Independent, Sethene launched a scathing attack on President Cyril Ramaphosa for failing to suspend Mamphiswana after he was urged to put the DG on suspension “pending the finalisation of the investigation”.

“To date, the president has not suspended the DG,” the report states.

Dr Leon Schreiber, shadow minister for public service and administration for the DA, on Friday also questioned Ramaphosa’s failure to suspend him. “It has been five months since the president was asked to suspend Mamphiswana but he hasn’t done so. There is no suggestion whatsoever indicating that the allegations levelled against the DG aren’t true.”

Schreiber this week opened a case of fraud and corruption at Cape Town Central Police Station against Mamphiswana and the woman - whom he dubbed Bonnie and Clyde. He wants the woman fired from her R1.3 million-a-year job and all the monies paid to her so far recouped.

In his report, Sethene confirms Sunday Independent’s story that Mamphiswana has a 7-year-old child with the woman, who cannot be named to protect the child’s identity.

Attached is a signed affidavit submitted to the Home Affairs Department offices in Centurion, Pretoria, co-signed by Mamphiswana and the woman on August 13 last year when they applied to alter the child’s surname from her mother’s to the DG’s. In the affidavit, they admit they are “the biological parents” and that the child was “born out of wedlock”.

The report states: “During August 2019, the position in issue had been advertised and closing date for submission of applications was 6 September.”

The report states that 90 people applied and the preferred candidates were interviewed on October 23 last year before four of them, including the woman, were shortlisted. The report also notes two of the shortlisted candidates have PhD degrees and one of them has “six years of experience in the field of ethics in public service”.

“He developed and presented ethics management programmes to ethics officers and ethics committees in various government departments, government components, heads of departments and public servants. He also conducted ethics research and ethics surveys for public administration in 2015 and 2018 which were used as the baseline for the public service regulations review in 2016,” the report adds.

The report also reveals that the woman linked to Mamphiswana “had no ethics training at all” and it was unclear from her CV that she had five years’ experience, one of the requirements but she was “ultimately appointed”.

It also adds that “feeble justification was anything to go by”, the woman “could be described as a generalist who, inter alia, dealt with professional ethics, one of the many aspects of her duties, as and when it is necessary”.

Sethene wrote he “found that the members of the panel that shortlisted” the woman “did not apply their minds property to what it means to have five years’ experience in the field of professional ethics”.

He added: “I doubt the PSC in filling this position intended that an ideal candidate should be a generalist in order to be able to be able to advise the entire public service.”

The woman was appointed as the chief director for professional ethics in the PSC and started in her new position on December 1, 2019. But she didn’t report to work for the whole of December and “was paid a full salary without lifting a finger”.

The report adds that the salary payment “was a calculated fraud... to be paid a salary for the month of December 2019 as chief director for doing nothing”.

The report says the woman’s appointment was “a result of nepotism, deceit, dishonesty, corruption and fraud” and recommends that the PSC take legal action to reverse it. It adds that the PSC chairperson must “immediately approach the relevant law enforcement agency to open a case of fraud, corruption and contravention of the provisions of the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act)” against Mamphiswana and the woman.

The report adds that the PSC must “institute civil claims against the woman and Dr Mamphiswana to reimburse all the money paid to her as a chief director: professional ethics”.

The PSC has over the years investigated government officials facing similar allegations and recommended their dismissal. Those who flouted government rules and regulations include:

A senior official from the Department of Education in Limpopo who sat on an interviewing panel that recommended the appointment of the mother of his child. He failed to recuse himself from the process.

A senior Department of Home Affairs official based at head office who approved the appointment of his fiancée even though he didn’t sit on the interviewing panel. It was reported as a case of conflict of interest since the official also failed to recuse himself from the process.

Another Department of Home Affairs official who was fired as a director from its Giyani office in Limpopo after appointing her sister to office.

An official from the Department of Sports in Limpopo who was dismissed, also for appointing a relative.

Another official from the Limpopo Department of Sports was forced to resign while under investigation for favouritism after he appointed a person he used to work with at one of the municipalities.

Sethene confirmed that he had concluded his investigation and submitted his report this week but refused to make any comment. He referred all questions to the PSC.

PSC spokesperson Humphrey Ramafoko confirmed that the commission received the report last week and was following due process to implement its recommendations, and that there would be no cover up.

In terms of the Public Service Act, Mamphiswana reports directly to Ramaphosa. 

The president’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Sunday Independent

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