Husband’s old R11m tender haunts minister

STEPS TAKEN Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and her husband, Sihle Ngubane, on their wedding day in 2017
STEPS TAKEN Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and her husband, Sihle Ngubane, on their wedding day in 2017

But Kubayi-Ngubane says she declared all her financial interests and her spouse sold company that got R11m North West government contract

The husband of Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane received an R11 million IT contract with the North West government, leading to accusations that the minister, an ANC provincial task team co-ordinator, cannot be a neutral arbiter of the disputes in the province.

Sihle Ngubane had business relations with the North West legislature until he resigned and sold the company last year to avoid potential embarrassment for Kubayi-Ngubane.

The ANC recently appointed her to head the provincial structures in North West to prepare for the May 8 general elections.

But Kubayi-Ngubane’s arrival in the province has been met with allegations that she was conflicted, because of the tender given to her husband by the North West legislature under the erstwhile administration of the axed premier, Supra Mahumapelo.

Mahumapelo was the Speaker in the legislature until 2014, when he became premier, succeeded by his close ally and former acting provincial secretary Susan Dantjie.

Before the lucrative IT tender was advertised, Ngubane’s Sizavox had a similar contract, valued at R1.8 million, with the legislature in 2015, for a period of one year.

“After that the contract continued on a month-to-month basis, until the tender was advertised in December 2016,” Ngubane said.

The coupled married on 16 September 2017, some months after the three-year deal was signed, and approximately six months after former president Jacob Zuma appointed Kubayi-Ngubane energy minister.

“He has been operating in North West even before he met me,” said the minister.

Kubayi-Ngubane also showed City Press images of the confidential papers filed in Parliament showing that she had taken steps to declare all financial interests as required in the ministerial code of conduct.

She said that after obtaining legal advice it was agreed that it would be desirable for Ngubane to disassociate himself from Sizavox.

“We looked at other people including the president (Cyril Ramaphosa), where you have to pull out of companies. That was the advice we got from consulting.”

She said that in any case, government procurement would going forward be done at a centralised level in the Treasury, so there was no opportunity for her to influence any future work for her husband.

Kubayi-Ngubane said Sizavox was recommended by the office of the auditor-general “because of the work they have done to assist with cleaning up the system of audit in North West”.

“One thing is that you could not fault him in his specialty in terms of the work that he does and the credibility of his company. That is why he had to pull out.”

Documents retrieved from the Companies And Intellectual Property Commission showed that Ngubane and another partner registered the company in 2011, but that he was the sole director between 2015 and April 2018.

City Press also learnt that the company no longer had business ties with the City of Ekurhuleni or the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, which was named among the “clients” on its website.

The company’s website still had Ngubane’s mobile number on the contacts page at the time of going to press.

THE NORTH WEST POLITICAL MINEFIELD

On the political front, however, a significant part of Kubayi-Ngubane’s new ANC responsibilities, together with national executive committee colleague Obed Bapela, was to fairly manage the tensions between Mahumapelo and his opponents in the embattled province.

But the trio – Kubayi-Ngubane, Mahumapelo and Bapela – were among the key figures in the ANC’s “NDZ” lobby group in 2017, which also included Jacob Zuma.

This group backed Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to become Zuma’s successor instead of Ramaphosa at the last national conference in Nasrec.

According to several insiders on the task team, Kubayi-Ngubane was also on record as saying that after the provincial manifesto rally in Rustenburg last week, the task team would review the anti-Mahumapelo regional task teams that had been appointed by the former task team in three regions, namely Bojanala, Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Dr Ruth Segomotso Mompati.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that being an NDZ supporter did not mean that she was unable to act neutrally in managing the North West conflict, citing the example of the ANC’s head of elections Fikile Mbalula, who had also been in the NDZ camp but was nonetheless trusted by Ramaphosa to lead the ANC’s national campaign.

However, widespread suspicion had been that leaders of the new task team were working as proxies for Mahumapelo, particularly after a blow-up that Kubayi-Ngubane had had with fellow task team member Kabelo Mataboge, who was relieved of his duties as the provincial ANC spokesperson.

Kubayi-Ngubane said that when the latest task team was appointed, Mataboge’s position as spokesperson of the former task team was also affected

“So, it cannot be that he was fired.” She said that she had been the chief communicator until the task team appointed one.

She said that the task team did not have powers to meddle with the election structures because it did not have the authority, which resided with the national election team led by Mbalula.

“There is a clear chain of command on elections and unfortunately comrades do not seem to understand organisational processes,” adding that sometimes it was “shocking”.

She said: “The comrades in North West thrive on rumour and gossip.”

The allegations against her were part of factional efforts to “capture” her as the co-ordinator – a powerful role similar in functions to the secretary position.

She said that in a bid to diffuse the tensions the task team last week issued an instruction that all structures should suspend other organisational work and focus on the elections.

Kubayi-Ngubane said it was self-defeating for anyone in North West to try and sabotage her work, because her interest in the province was limited to seeing the ANC win the elections and nothing else.

Otherwise, she said, her primary loyalty was with her home province Gauteng, where she also featured on the election candidates list.

Bapela also said there was nothing wrong with his support for Dlamini-Zuma, because it was part of the ANC’s democratic processes.

“The problem is that people are still having a Nasrec hangover and we have long passed that stage and we accept Ramaphosa as the president,” he said.

City Press hereby retracts the headline Minister's husband in R11m tender conflict published on March 10 2019. The body of the article did not support the headline as reported. We apologise to the Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and her husband for the embarrassment that the headline may have caused the family. It was changed online on May 25 to “Husband’s old R11m tender haunts minister”. City Press retracts the original headline and apologies for any confusion this could have caused. 

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