Mpumalanga parastatal’s CEO gets R4.4m golden handshake

2014-08-31 06:00

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The chief executive officer of a Mpumalanga parastatal has scored a R4.4 million golden handshake following his sudden resignation under a cloud of irregularities.

Advocate Boyce Mkhize, who left the struggling Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (Mega), had three years and four months remaining on his contract. But the board only agreed to pay him for two years.

The payout does not mean he will escape retribution should he be implicated in corruption.

Eric Kholwane – the MEC for finance, economic development, environment and tourism – said Mkhize exercised a clause in his contract that stipulated he could resign for whatever operational reasons that may come up.

“His resignation does not exonerate or waive our legal right. In the event when criminal issues linking him arise, we will pursue them,” said Kholwane.

Although Kholwane said that Mkhize claimed he resigned because he “wanted to give the interim Mega board a fresh start and an opportunity to appoint a new CEO”, whistleblowers within the parastatal had already been accusing him of corruption.

Mkhize said he resigned to pursue other interests. “My resignation had nothing to do with poor performance or incapacity on my part. The MEC and the board agreed. And all the allegations made against me are baseless and are not reasons for my departure.”

He refused to discuss his payout, and asked: “Who gave you that information?”

Documents seen by City Press indicate that Mkhize changed a score by a bid adjudication committee in favour of another company.

In April last year, Mega advertised a tender worth R10 million for the appointment of engineers to manage and oversee the installation of bulk water infrastructure.

The committee appointed one company but Mkhize changed the scores to favour another company instead based, he told the board, on “the evaluation of technical capacity in a consistent manner”. However, the contract was cancelled without being awarded.

Premier David Mabuza removed bulk water infrastructure projects from municipalities two years ago and gave them to Mega. After Mega’s failures, he has moved them to Rand Water.

Mega’s core responsibility is to finance businesses and attract investment into the province, but it has been beset by poor administration. The auditor-general has given the parastatal disclaimers year after year.

Mkhize was also accused of appointing five officials from his former employers, the National Nuclear Regulator and the Health Professions Council of South Africa, to head business units at Mega, and making the incumbents redundant.

Kholwane said the allegations have not been formally brought to the board.

However he said he had instructed Mega’s audit committee to do a skills audit of all executives.

“I won’t tolerate a situation where there is a person who does not meet the minimum competency levels.

I hope the skills audit will point us to the right direction.”

» This article was updated after first published.

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