After months of not heeding legal advice to place Public Service Commission (PSC) director-general Dovhani Mamphiswana on suspension pending the finalisation of active investigations against him, President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally buckled and placed Mamphiswana on precautionary suspension.
In a media statement circulated on Wednesday, the presidency was quick to clarify that the precautionary suspension does, in no way, constitute a judgment on the part of Ramaphosa.
“This is a precautionary suspension in terms of the disciplinary code and procedures for members of the senior management services contained in Chapter 7 of the handbook for the public service,” read the statement.
“The president’s suspension of the director-general does not in any way constitute a judgment on the part of the president.”
While the suspension takes effect immediately, Mamphiswana will still receive his full pay pending the finalisation of the investigation.
Mamphiswana has been accused of filling the position of chief director: professional ethics with the mother of his child, Boitumelo Mogwe.
PSC chairperson, Advocate Richard Sizani, appointed Advocate Smanga Sethene to institute an investigation into the allegations.
Sethene earlier in the year set out the legal basis for the PSC to recommend to the president the suspension of the director-general, pending the finalisation of the investigation.
This legal advice was not adhered to by Ramaphosa, who instead delegated to Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu the power to investigate if there was any improper conduct during the filling of a vacancy within the department.
Not withstanding Sethene’s investigation, Mchunu instead set up his own investigation into Mamphiswana, led by a two-person team of Michele Snyman and Ronnie Pather.
Last month Mchunu said the investigations were “at an advanced stage” and he expected a report to be “finalised shortly”.
The presidency indicated that Ramaphosa had since been furnished with the report on the investigation.
“The report submitted to the president has recommended that the president institute formal disciplinary action against Dr Mamphiswana,” the presidency said.
“The president subsequently advised the director-general of his intention to place him on precautionary suspension.”
“Following written representations by Dr Mamphiswana, the president decided to proceed with the precautionary suspension.”
Following his investigations into the allegations of corruption and fraud against Mamphiswana and Mogwe – dated July 8 – Sethene revealed in his report that his authority to investigate was questioned by both, who aside from being dismissive, told him to conclude his investigation without their input.
Sethene’s forensic investigative report found that the appointment was irregular and that Mamphiswana had “brazenly” abused his power to facilitate the plum R1.3 million job for his mistress.
“The appointed chief director had no ethics training at all according to her own CV. There is no indication in her CV as to whether she had the necessary five years of experience in the field of professional ethics in accordance with the requirements of the position she was ultimately appointed to. The explanation tendered to me during the interviews, justifying her being shortlisted on the basis that provincial directors deal with ethics among others, is with respect, without basis.”
“In fact, if that feeble justification was anything to go by, (she) could have best been described as a generalist who, inter alia, dealt with professional ethics as one of the many aspects of her duties as and when it was necessary. I find that the members of the panel that shortlisted (her) did not apply their minds properly to what it means to have five years’ experience in the field of professional ethics.
I doubt the intention of the PSC in filling this position was that an ideal candidate should be a generalist in order to be able to advise the entire public service,” the report read.
DA MP Leon Schreiber last month opened criminal charges in Cape Town, while the PSC has as not yet done so.