DA calls for premier’s impeachment

2016-10-09 15:00
David Mabuza (GCIS)

David Mabuza (GCIS)

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Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza could face impeachment proceedings in the wake of fresh evidence that he misled the legislature four years ago by denying his office did business with certain firms.

The DA believes the matter is grave enough to ask the legislature to initiate an impeachment process – a fruitless exercise since the ANC is in the majority.

According to documents seen by City Press, the issue started five years ago, when Priscilla Shongwe, a senior manager in the research unit at Mabuza’s office, hired Lutsango Trading to facilitate a team-building workshop at a cost of R29 620.

Shongwe’s supervisor disapproved and the deal was cancelled. However, a payment had already been made on March 10 2011.

Shongwe then wrote to the manager of Lutsango Trading, Jane Mabaso, requesting that she repay the money because the service was not rendered.

In a letter dated August 1, Mabaso undertook to repay the full amount in two months. On November 10, she did so.

But when the DA submitted a written question in the legislature on October 19 2011, asking Mabuza whether his office had done business with Lutsango and four other companies – Lindinkosi Trust, Middleground, Beatum Trading and Nelesco 85 – his answer was “no”. This has now come back to haunt him.

According to Companies and Intellectual Property Commission records, Mabuza was a director of two of the companies the DA asked about: Nelesco 85 and Middleground.

In the first written response to the DA’s question in 2011, chief of staff in Mabuza’s office Yasmin Aly said:

“Following a complete and thorough assessment – and taking into account that this is a multiple-year request – in terms of the records and reports submitted to the department of finance, including the procurement contract information, none of the following companies appears to have solicited contracts for the procurement of goods, services and works.”

The DA resubmitted the same question for Mabuza to give an oral reply during a legislature sitting on November 29 2011.

However, the question was removed from the order paper because it was asked by Vusi Manzini, who was no longer a legislature member.

DA provincial leader James Masango made a second attempt to get an oral reply on April 24 2012.

Mabuza asked him to refer to House records to see how his office had responded to the question.

All along, the DA did not have concrete evidence – until it emerged this month that Shongwe was allegedly victimised for the Lutsango contract, even though she had avoided fruitless expenditure by ensuring that government money was paid back.

The evidence shows that former Mpumalanga director-general Jacob Rabodila charged Shongwe for fruitless expenditure and for not declaring her financial and business interests.

But the Auditor-General’s office cleared her of wrongdoing when it was subsequently found that she had declared her interests.

Shongwe resigned in 2013, citing stress. She declined to comment this week.

Masango said the DA would write to the Speaker of the provincial legislature, Thandi Shongwe (not related to Priscilla), and ANC chief whip Johan Mkhatshwa to haul Mabuza before the ethics committee for “misleading” the House.

“The premier must come to the legislature and account for why he lied. He should have said:

‘I know about the appointment of this company and my office is dealing with it.’ How can we trust that he tells the truth when he responds to legislature questions [in future]?” Masango asked.

“We will try to impeach the premier because he did not abide by his oath of office. The ANC is in the majority and we will need two thirds of legislature members to support this, but we will try and explore other options,” he added.

He said Mabuza’s behaviour raised red flags. “What was the premier trying to hide?”

Mabuza’s spokesperson Zibonele Mncwango did not respond to questions sent to him on Wednesday.


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