Smoke and mirrors

2008-04-17 00:00

WHILE there will always be aspects of management which require confidentiality, the essence of good governance is openness and transparency. This appears not to be a standard met by Premier S’bu Ndebele who last week denied that the legal firm of Strauss Daly Incorporated was investigating any corruption allegations against former Health director-general, Dr Busi Nyembezi. However, a leak to a Durban newspaper revealed that Strauss Daly has indeed been engaged by Ndebele to probe the affairs of the department under Nyembezi and produced a report which the premier’s office has so far not published.

Moreover, what Strauss Daly found is the very antithesis of good governance. Nyembezi deliberately interfered in the awarding of tenders to ensure that Siza Consulting, a company owned by her husband, received work from the department — and, moveover, at a higher fee than that to be charged by the company preferred by the bid committee. The report described Nyembezi’s conduct as “plainly reprehensible” and recommended that the premier fire her with immediate effect.

It seems that Nyembezi in fact resigned following a raid by the Scorpions on her offices. But she is not the only one. Jabulani Mjwara, the former Head of Agriculture, was fingered for maladministration to the tune of R100 million and was down for a disciplinary hearing when he also resigned to forestall it. Both of them, together with Thabani Zulu, who had a short stint at Welfare, are apparently to be the beneficiaries of substantial exit packages. Surely individuals who could be brought to court for various crimes and misdemeanours should not be rewarded for going quietly?

The fact that such developments as these have only become public by way of leaks and probing by journalists is almost as bad as the misdemeanours themselves. The premier needs to level with the public of this province. It is only frank acknowledgement of things that go wrong rather than attempts to cover them up that creates a reputation for integrity of administration.

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