KZN Speaker 'profits from her position'
Nalini Naidoo, The Witness
Pietermaritzburg - The Speaker in the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature and former health MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, is listed as a director in 13 companies, three of which are known to have conducted business with the provincial government.
This is according to the DA, from information it received in response to a parliamentary question.
DA provincial leader, Sizwe Mchunu said the response was received from finance MEC Ina Cronjé and showed that business to the tune of R347 000 was conducted from 2006 to date.
"Most damning is a payment of R222 300, in 2008, to one of Nkonyeni’s companies for the supply of “medical wheelchairs”, at a time when she was provincial health MEC. Other services provided by the various companies, some as recently as this year, include venues and facilities, advertising and marketing and catering,” Mchunu said.
Call for investigation, suspension
He added that the DA will write to the Public Protector’s office to call for an investigation into Nkonyeni and her business dealings with the provincial government.
Mchunu called on KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, and his cabinet, to immediately suspend Nkonyeni from her duties, pending the outcome of a full investigation and a disciplinary hearing.
He questioned how the Speaker could adequately fulfil her role in the legislature when she was involved in personal business pursuits in 13 companies.
"A cloud already exists over her head, with her name linked to the ‘Three Amigos’ [court case] and now we have this gross abuse of the system. She has jeopardised the reputation of the Speaker and the good name of the House. Yet, politically, she appears to have nine lives.” Mchunu said.
Questions have previously been raised about former health staff now employed in the legislature. These include former health chief financial officer Sipho Buthelezi, a co-accused in the Amigos trial, former health spokesperson Leon Mbangwa and former health manager in infrastructure Zenzele Ndlela.
Wesley Canham, acting spokesperson in Nkonyeni’s office, said the Constitution allows those in public office to participate in business and that Nkonyeni has declared all her business interests.
Canham said at no stage has the Speaker knowingly or unknowingly benefited from any business transaction which has to do with the legislature where she serves.
"I can confirm that in 2010, the Speaker was approached by a company called Grenville Industrial Supply, to be a member of this company, and the alleged transaction mentioned [by Mchunu] is said to have taken place in 2008. The Speaker had no knowledge of the previous transactions that the company had with government.”
Canham added that some of the 13 companies that the DA alleges that the Speaker is a director of have long been dormant, and she had declared these.