Minister misses her own deadline

2011-04-22 09:07

Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde has failed to meet her own deadline to comment on the Public Protector’s report into the police’s lease agreement for Pretoria’s Middestad Building.

A month ago, Mahlangu-Nkabinde said she was still reading the report released a month earlier by Thuli Madonsela, and would comment once she had fully studied it. She gave a 30-days time frame, but Nkabinde had nothing to show for it yesterday.

“It has not happened yet. We have to be patient, it will happen. There are still processes that still need to take place like the investigation by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Secretary of Cabinet Cassius Lubisi,” said her spokesperson Obakeng Modikoe.

Cabinet has since instructed Lubisi and Radebe to interact with the public protector’s office on the report.

This was followed by an assurance by government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi that nothing would be swept under the carpet.

Modikoe said the long wait would be over soon once the decisions and outcomes were pronounced by Cabinet.

These, he said, “will be fed into the minister’s response”.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde has been in possession of the report for the past two months now.

The report emanates from a Sunday Times article last year that national police commissioner Bheki Cele had signed a R500-million lease for the Pretoria building with property tycoon Roux Shabangu, allegedly without following tender procedures.

Madonsela found Cele was guilty of improper conduct and maladministration when the police entered into the lease.

She also found the public works department’s accounting officer guilty of improper conduct and maladministration, saying the lease was invalid.

Furthermore, the public works department’s decision to continue with the deal, despite legal opinion advising against it, amounted to maladministration.

Madonsela recommended that Cabinet, at its first meeting, demand an explanation from Mahlangu-Nkabinde on why she decided to continue with the lease, despite legal opinion to the contrary.

Mahlangu-Nkabinde has since denied a media report that quoted her saying the report was “shallow and superficial”.

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