Legal fees report wrong - NW govt

2012-12-12 09:27
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Johannesburg - The newspaper report alleging North West finance MEC Paul Sebegoe and education MEC Louisa Mabe spent R13m on legal fees for a disciplinary hearing was wrong, the provincial finance department said on Tuesday.

“The information published by the newspaper in question is gross misrepresentation of facts,” department spokesperson Kesalopa Gill said in a statement.

“The MEC submitted an apology for not attending the Scopa meeting as he was not available due to prior commitments. It is unfortunate that no arrangements were made to determine [his] availability.”

The department had taken up the matter with the editor and were awaiting a response.

Gill said that with the matter still under review, the department could not comment further on the case.

Call for expulsion

Earlier, the province’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) called for the expulsion of the two MECs after they failed to appear.

The legislature said in a statement the disciplinary hearing concerned suspended department head (HOD) Johannes Mohlala.

Acting HOD Geo Paul reportedly wrote to Mabe asking if she was going to avoid standard practice and appoint a law firm on contract for the hearing, the cost of which was not allowed to exceed R500 000.

However, according to media reports an invoice from the law firm Mabe appointed showed the department paid nearly R2m for a single invoice, spending R13m in total.

It was reported that Mabe was the chief witness in the matter.

Scopa wanted Mabe and Sebegoe expelled because they both failed to appear before the committee to explain the matter as requested.

"The two sent apologies but the committee 'rejected them with contempt'," the legislature said.

Scopa chairperson Hlomane Chauke said public money could not be spent in that manner, with Sebegoe and Mabe refusing to take responsibility and account for it. He said if media reports were correct, Mabe had acted in bad faith.

"They were given enough time to come and present facts to the committee and they failed to do so," said Chauke.

"If we do not take action we will see the collapse of accountability in the province."

Scopa resolved the matter be brought to the attention of North West Premier Thandi Modise.

Comment from Mabe could not be immediately obtained.

- SAPA
Read more on:    scopa  |  louisa mabe  |  mahikeng  |  local government  |  government spending
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