Mkhwebane investigates secretary to Parliament’s shenanigans

2017-05-14 07:47
Gengezi Mgidlana. Picture: Parliament’s website

Gengezi Mgidlana. Picture: Parliament’s website

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is investigating Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana regarding a range of complaints, including his travel, use of blue lights and controversial labour-related decisions.

Although the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), which represents the majority of Parliament’s staff, and former deputy head of parliamentary protection services Motlatsi Mokgatla submitted the complaints last year, accusing Mgidlana of maladministration and abuse of power, the Public Protector is only now addressing the matter.

However, Parliament’s failure to meet the first deadline for submission of key documents, including Mgidlana’s top security clearance certificate, is already threatening to delay the Public Protector’s investigation. Mkhwebane had asked National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and Parliament to respond by April 25, a deadline they missed. However, Parliament asked the Public Protector for more time to respond to her questions and submit the documents for her investigation.

Complaints against Mgidlana include the hiring of a consultant without following proper supply chain management processes, Mgidlana’s taking his spouse on a number of official trips around the country at Parliament’s expense, questions around his academic qualifications and the union’s claim that he did not possess the required top-secret security clearance from a reliable vetting agency.

As a result, Mkhwebane asked Parliament, on April 5, to provide her with a comprehensive report addressing the allegations. She wanted a copy of the delegation of authority signed by Mgidlana in favour of the subordinate who allegedly approved
his overseas trips.

She is also expecting a copy of the executive directive from the executive authority who instructs Mgidlana to proceed with the benchmarking trips.

She has asked Parliament to “specify the reasons for that instruction and provide proof that the directive was tabled in Parliament for referral to the ‘oversight mechanism’ as required by policy”.

Mkhwebane also wants a copy of the international travel policy for executives and employees, copies of all of Mgidlana’s qualifications and certificates, a copy of Mgidlana’s formal job description, as well as the required qualifications and the formal job specification.

In addition, she requested a policy regulating parliamentary protection services in respect of transport of the secretary to Parliament, and transport for his spouse. This has to do with policy and procedure regulating the use of blue lights and sirens.

Parliament is also expected to attach its investigation report into the security breach that led to the suspensions of Mokgatla and Parliament’s head of security, Zelda Holtzman, in July 2015.

However, Mokgatla’s contract term ended while he was on suspension and while Holtzman went through a disciplinary process, which is yet to be finalised.

Mkhwebane has also asked for details and all human resource records pertaining to the recruitment of SA Police Service officials into Parliament’s protection services and the directive to recruit police officials into parliamentary protection.

Nehawu’s complaint is related to Mgidlana allegedly paying himself R71 000 in ex gratia allowances that were meant to compensate workers of Parliament who had not received 13th cheques for several years.

Mgidlana had been an employee in Parliament for three months when he approved the payment for himself.

In his complaint to the Public Protector, Mokgatla accused Mgidlana of making unreasonable requests from parliamentary protection services, which included transporting him and his family members to and from work, transporting his wife to her appointments and to or from the airport.

“At times, they are even required to switch on the blue light and sirens. According to the drivers, this was not in the scope of employment, and was contrary to policy and procedure,” Mokgatla said.

Mokgatla said that he and Holtzman had approached Mgidlana and asked him to refrain from utilising protection services for such purposes after the drivers had complained, but Mgidlana became defensive and held that if the requests were not adhered to, it would be viewed as insubordination.

The duo also allegedly refused to pay the police officers recruited into parliamentary security because they were unhappy with the “irregular” process followed in recruiting them.

Mokgatla contended that, when this information leaked to the media in 2015, they were suspended pending an investigation into an alleged security breach.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Parliament would comply with the Public Protector’s request, saying the institution had been granted a deadline extension to submit the responses. He did not say when the new deadline was or why Parliament failed to meet the original deadline.

Read more on:    public protector  |  busisiwe mkhwebane  |  gengezi mgidlana  |  parliament

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