Provincial executives should avoid conflicts of interest, Mkhwebane warns

20 June 2019 - 08:35 By ERNEST MABUZA
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has cautioned members of the Limpopo executive council against meddling in procurement matters.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has cautioned members of the Limpopo executive council against meddling in procurement matters.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Antonio Muchave

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has cautioned the executive council of Limpopo, led by Premier Stan Mathabatha, against meddling in procurement matters.

Mkhwebane warned that such interference could get them into trouble with the law.

She was in Limpopo on Wednesday in a roadshow targeting incoming members of the executives in different provinces. It focuses on what is expected of them in relation to the executive ethics legal framework.

Addressing the newly-elected executive in Bela-Bela as part of an induction programme, which coincided with her office’s annual stakeholder roadshow, Mkhwebane also warned against the referral of friends or relatives to officials for opportunities.

She said this could place members of the executive in a conflict between their official duties and private interests, a situation which was untenable.

“Don’t ever find yourself instructing officials as to which company should be given business,” she said.

Mkhwebane’s deputy, Kevin Malunga, in his presentation on the Executive Members’ Ethics Act and the Code of Ethics, told members of the provincial executive: “If you are there to serve the public, forget about yourself.”

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In 2017, Mkhwebane found that former Limpopo transport MEC Mapula Mokaba-Phukwana irregularly awarded a contract to MPA Investigation Team to conduct a forensic investigation without proper legal authority and without following proper procurement processes.

She also found that the provincial transport head of department, Hanli du Plessis, irregularly regularised the contract awarded to MPA Investigation Team by reappointing the company on the basis of a verbal instruction or directive issued by Mokaba-Phukwana.

Both Mokaba-Phukwana and Du Plessis took the report on judicial review.

The court ruled in favour of the public protector in the matter involving Du Plessis, while the one concerning Mokaba-Phukwana was still pending before the courts.

Mkhwebane told Mathabatha that the mere action of taking her reports on review did not suspend the implementation of remedial action.

Distinguishing between judicial review and appeal processes, Mkhwebane said where the judicial review was concerned, parties must obtain an interdict to suspend the implementation of the remedial action.

She said in the appeal process, the order of the court which passed the judgment was automatically suspended pending appeal proceedings.

The roadshow will move to other provinces, starting in the Eastern Cape in July.