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

PSC still to file charges against DG who 'abused' his power to facilitate R1.3m job for mistress

By Khaya Koko Time of article published Jul 16, 2020

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The Public Service Commission (PSC) has not filed criminal charges against its director-general (DG), who “brazenly” abused his power to facilitate a plum R1.3 million job for his mistress.

The charges are recommended in a damning forensic investigative report commissioned by the State Attorney's office, which found that PSC director-general Dr Dovhani Mamphiswana hired his alleged lover and the mother of his child as chief director for professional ethics.

The report was compiled by advocate Smanga Sethene on the instruction of the State Attorney. This was after a whistle-blower had come forward.

The mistress, who cannot be named in order to protect their child, is 20 years younger than the DG and was working for the PSC in the Free State. It is believed she got the job with the help of the DG.

Still, in a letter circulated on Monday to PSC commissioners and signed by “Ms S Makinde”, the director for litigation and legal services, the commission resolved not to open a case of fraud and corruption as yet.

This is despite the probe also finding that when Mamphiswana was the PSC’s deputy director-general for integrity and anti-corruption in May 2012, he was a panel member when the woman was shortlisted and interviewed for the post of Limpopo’s provincial director.

Sethene’s report noted that when the position of chief director for professional ethics within the commission was advertised, 90 candidates applied and four, including Mamphiswana's alleged mistress, were shortlisted.

Sethene said according to the advertisement, the position required an experienced person with a recognised bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification (new NQF level 7) in public management, social sciences or a related field. A postgraduate qualification (new NQF level 8 and above) with courses relevant to the area of public management and public administration was an added advantage. A further requirement was five years’ experience at senior management level in professional ethics and proven experience in applied research.

“The appointed chief director had no ethics training at all according to her own CV. There is no indication in her CV as to whether she had the necessary five years of experience in the field of professional ethics in accordance with the requirements of the position she was ultimately appointed to. The explanation tendered to me during the interviews, justifying her being shortlisted on the basis that provincial directors deal with ethics among others, is with respect, without basis.

“In fact, if that feeble justification was anything to go by, (she) could have best been described as a generalist who, inter alia, dealt with professional ethics as one of the many aspects of her duties as and when it was necessary. I find that the members of the panel that shortlisted (her) did not apply their minds properly to what it means to have five years’ experience in the field of professional ethics. I doubt the intention of the PSC in filling this position was that an ideal candidate should be a generalist in order to be able to advise the entire public service,” the report read.

The report further stated that it was “probable that (she) was in the early stages of her pregnancy as their child was born within nine months after (the May 2012) interview”.

On Wednesday, both Mamphiswana and the woman referred The Star to PSC spokesperson Humphrey Ramafoko.

He said that despite DA MP Leon Schreiber opening criminal charges in Cape Town, the PSC would not do so at this stage.

Ramafoko added that the commission was following “due processes provided for in terms of the prevailing legislation applicable to employees in the public service”. 

“The report is a first step and all processes will be followed according to the letter of the law.”

Asked whether not opening a case was tantamount to a cover up, considering that Sethene also said it should be publicised and not made confidential, Ramafoko said: “The PSC is processing the report received in terms of the prevailing legislation applicable to employees in the public service and there is no cover up.”

In his report, Sethene also outlined how he argued for Mamphiswana to be suspended pending the investigation but President Cyril Ramaphosa ignored the recommendation and only authorised the probe. In authorising the probe, the president said after the investigation they should make recommendations of how the matter should be handled.

“On January 30, 2020, I duly furnished the State Attorney with the opinion setting out the legal basis for the PSC to recommend to the president the suspension of the DG pending the finalisation of the investigation.

“The chairperson, following a discussion with other commissioners of the PSC in the plenary, resolved to act pursuant to my opinion and addressed a letter to the president on February 6, 2020, urging the president to suspend the DG pending the finalisation of the investigation. To date, the president has not suspended the DG,” Sethene said in the report.

Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu said on Wednesday that he was concerned about reports of misconduct in the investigation of his DG.

“The Public Service Commission is an institution which seeks to ensure, among others, good governance in the public service and derives its mandate from Section 196 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, and these allegations against the DG are viewed in a serious light,” he said.

Mchunu said: “Contrary to unfounded accusations by the DA, the president acted swiftly and within the parameters of the law to ensure that the allegations against Dr Mamphiswana were investigated. It is therefore nonsensical for the MP of the DA, Dr Leon Schreiber, to suggest that the president has failed to take action on the allegations.”

He said once the investigation authorised by the president was concluded and the report finalised, remedial action would be taken.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, did not respond when she was asked whether he had received the report and what his next course of action would be if he accepted it.

On its website, the PSC stated that it was “tasked and empowered to, among others, investigate, monitor and evaluate the organisation and administration of the public service”.

Sethene’s probe followed a January news report by The Star’s sister publication, The Sunday Independent, which lifted the lid on the alleged fraud and corruption when Mamphiswana “chaired a panel which recommended the appointment of the mother of his child as chief director: professional ethics”.

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