Call for action on Ezemvelo

2008-09-10 00:00

The provincial legislature’s finance portfolio committee has called for the suspension of the board members of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW).

This resolution was taken at a closed meeting on Tuesday where members of the committee were briefed by the head of provincial Treasury on the forensic audit report into allegations of fraud and corruption at EKZNW.

The current board members are board chairman Patrick Sokhela, Ilan Lax, Thulani Nkosi, Obed Shabangu and Philani Shangase.

The Witness understands that at least 47 EKZNW employees have been fingered in the forensic report. It is also understood that some of the board members are also implicated.

Of the 47 employees, three are at an executive level and 25 at a management level, while the remaining 19 are employees below management level.

Khulekani Ntshangase, the spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, told The Witness that MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu had “legal processes” that he needed to follow before the board members could be suspended.

“We have said that we will deal with all those implicated in the report but there are some processes that we need to follow,” he said.

The forensic report was tabled in-camera on Tuesday and will not be made public. This after the Department of Agriculture argued, last month, that it would not be ideal to make the findings of the report public as some of the findings will form part of a criminal investigation.

Belinda Scott, the chairwoman of the committee, said the resolutions taken by the committee were public and only the contents of the report were to be treated confidentially.

Opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party, have protested this, calling for the report to be made public.

The committee also resolved to “recommend to the MEC for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs” to appoint another functionary as the accounting authority for the board of EKZNW.

The committee also took resolutions on the forensic audit investigations into financial mismanagement at the Department of Agriculture. The report of the investigation has also not been made public.

Members of the committee resolved that the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) be asked to report to the committee by October 9 on the progress made with regard to prosecution of some senior officials at the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs.

Tuesday’s meeting was held behind closed doors to consider the long delayed forensic reports on the Department of Agriculture and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The Democratic Alliance objected to the meeting being held behind closed doors, saying both forensic reports should be publicly released and debated.

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