Minister threatens to sue MPs in weather storm

22 July 2018 - 00:06 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is threatening to take parliament to court over its move to hold the board members of one of her entities personally liable for financial decisions deemed fruitless.
She made the threat in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, which was leaked to the Sunday Times.
In the letter, Molewa argues that the National Assembly should rescind a resolution of the environmental affairs portfolio committee to hold board members of the South African Weather Service personally liable for R2-million paid to the entity's former CEO, Linda Makuleni, to vacate her office before her contract ended.
"Any attempt to elevate the disputed resolution to the order paper of the National Assembly for decision will leave me, as executive authority, with no option than to seek legal redress," said Molewa.
But Philly Mapulane, chairman of the environmental affairs committee, has rejected Molewa's argument, saying it undermined the oversight role of parliament.
The weather service fired Makuleni in 2016, five months before her 10-year contract expired. After the committee took up the matter with the board, it resolved in October last year to hold board members personally liable for "the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R2-million ... incurred as a result of its ill-advised decision" to prematurely terminate Makuleni's contract.It argued there was no urgency to terminate the tenure of Makuleni, who had helped the service achieve a clean audit.
Mapulane's committee also resolved that the board be dissolved because of "their failure to exercise proper fiduciary duties".
But Molewa has come out guns blazing against the committee's resolution, describing it as unlawful and illegal. She argues the committee had no powers to decide what was financial misconduct, as this was the domain of the Treasury and auditor-general.
Mapulane said his committee was engaging parliament's legal advisers and was awaiting Mbete's directions.
The portfolio committee has adopted and approved the report, but the National Assembly is yet to approve it.
Parliament spokesman Moloto Mothapo confirmed Mbete received Molewa's letter and that she was applying her mind on the issues. "No decision has been taken yet."

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