Premier’s spindoctor removed from post after ‘bribing’ journo

2010-12-15 15:07

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza’s spokesperson, Mabutho Sithole, has been removed from his position following allegations that he had bribed a City Press journalist to drop a story.

Mabuza told the media that Sithole was “given space” to deal with the criminal case he was facing.

The premier was addressing the media about a commission of inquiry into scholar transport at Skukuza when journalists asked him about Sithole’s fate in light of the allegations against him.

Mabuza said Sithole would not be suspended and would continue working in the office of the premier, but not as his spindoctor.

“I heard about this matter through the media. Police are investigating and I can’t comment. (Sithole) is being given space to deal with the matter,” said Mabuza.

City Press Mpumalanga reporter Sizwe sama Yende claimed that Sithole had offered him R5 000 on Friday last week to drop a story about a R230-million tender awarded to Mabuza’s former business partner and friend, Patrick Chirwa, while the premier was agriculture MEC two years ago.

The tender was, according to an audit report by the integrity management unit in Mabuza’s office, awarded to Chirwa’s Sizwangendaba Investment (Pty) Ltd under questionable circumstances.

The tender was for the purchase of tractors and farming tools for rural communities, but the department had neither budgeted nor planned for it.Yende handed the cash to the Mpumalanga Organised Crime Unit and made an affidavit.

Police are investigating.

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