Minister covers up advisor's R1m spending spree

2015-03-01 08:45
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant (Picture: GCIS)

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant (Picture: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - A forensic audit has found Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant's special advisor, Herbert Mkhize, fleeced the government-funded National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) by more than R1m.

According to the Sunday Times, Mkhize used his Nedlac credit card to run up the exorbitant bills for travel, car hire, and household goods at Makro that included nappies, power tools, toilet paper, pet food and boxer shorts, among other things.

At the time of the spending, Mkhize was earning R800 000 a year as executive director of Nedlac. 

According to the newspaper, the report, which has since been handed over to police, paints a bleak picture of decadence and greed by Mkhize and Umesh Dulabh, the then chief financial officer whose job it was to check spending. Both men have since left Nedlac and reportedly refused to co-operate with auditors probing the matter.

Forensic audit

The newspaper reported that Oliphant kept the findings of the forensic audit a secret after everyone who saw the final report, compiled by chartered accountants AFCA & Partners and submitted to Oliphant in November 2012, was made to sign confidentiality agreements.

The report was finally obtained by DA MP Ian Ollis under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

The report meanwhile recommends that police charges and civil claims be instituted against the two men.

Among the recommendations stated are that Mkhize repays R35 000 spent during an unauthorised trip to the US; repays R62 200 borrowed illegally from Nedlac; pay tax on R146 000 interest-free loans from Nedlac; and repay R133 000 paid to him for wrongly accrued leave.

But despite the damning evidence against him, charges have not been brought against him and he is still employed by Oliphant. All attempts to reach Dulabh failed.

Mkhize, a former trade unionist, was appointed as head of Nedlac in 2003.

Oliphant announced in September 2011 that Mkhize was stepping down and that Alistair Graham Smith would take over at the helm of Nedlac.

Praise

In October she addressed the press and thanked Mkhize for his time at Nedlac saying that during his tenure, Mkhize has hosted many prominent figures that included Pascal Lamy, Secretary-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Juan Somavia, Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

She said he had been at the helm of Nedlac for eight years and had “been outstanding in creating the rapport with social partners and has gone to great lengths to deepen social dialogue. He was at the helm during the tough time when the world economic system imploded and this job required someone who is as grounded as him to keep all partners talking the same language”.

“South Africa owes him a debt of gratitude and it is incumbent upon me to wish him well in his future endeavours,” she said.

By November that year however, the labour department was requesting an audit into irregular spending.

Read more on:    nedlac  |  mildred oliphant  |  government spending

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