Ex-Mpuma MEC under fire from Protector

2012-02-29 22:41
Johannesburg - Former Mpumalanga health MEC Miriam Segabutla displayed improper conduct during her tenure, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.

"[Segabutla] acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the position that she occupied and that was not in the best interests of the department," she said.

Madonsela released the investigation report at a news briefing in Balfour, Mpumalanga.

Segabutla, who was MEC of health and social development, has since been appointed as South Africa's ambassador to Cuba.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint lodged with Madonsela's office, in June 2010, relating to the procurement of services for the Limpopo health department.

The complaint related to forensic investigation contracts awarded by the department to Trispen Solutions and Tsepo Technology Consulting. Tsepo's director, John William Lucas, was related to Segabutla, and Segabutla's attorney Gert van der Merwe was involved with Trispen.

Madonsela said a perception could have arisen that Lucas might have been favoured in the selection process due to his close relationship with her.

Under the circumstances, the MEC also created the perception that Van der Merwe was favoured in the selection process because he was her attorney.

"Instructing Mr Van der Merwe to represent her in a private matter at a time when he was also involved in providing a service to the department, constituted a conflict between the MEC’s personal interests and her official responsibilities," said Madonsela.

Segabutla exposed herself to situations where there was a risk of a conflict between her official responsibilities and private interests.

Madonsela added: "No evidence was presented during the investigation or could be found that indicated that the MEC was involved in the selection of Trispen and Tsepo as service providers and the awarding of the contracts to them."

As Segabutla was no longer a member of the Limpopo executive council no appropriate action could be taken against her by the premier or the provincial legislature.

She was appointed the South African ambassador to Cuba in August 2011, which meant she now worked for the international relations and co-operation ministry.

Madonsela recommended that President Jacob Zuma reprimand Segabutla for unethical conduct and advise her on how to conduct herself in future.

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