Claims of irregular expenditure at Dirco: Pandor wants external team to assess forensic probe

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor (Morapedi Mashashe)
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor (Morapedi Mashashe)
  • International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor says her predecessor, Lindiwe Sisulu, initiated two investigations in the department.
  • Pandor revealed in a parliamentary reply to DA MP Darren Bergman the irregular expenditure investigation was conducted by Open Water.
  • Former justice minister Brigitte Sylvia Mabandla led a panel which focused on matters related to organisational structure.

International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor is set to appoint an external team to assess whether a forensic investigation, which probed allegations of irregular expenditure, warrants further investigation.

Pandor's predecessor Lindiwe Sisulu, now Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister, commissioned two reports by independent entities – one investigating organisational structure, as well as allegations of sexual harassment, and the other irregular expenditure.

This was revealed in Pandor's parliamentary reply to DA MP Darren Bergman, who wanted details on the investigations.

The irregular expenditure investigation was conducted by Open Water, while former justice minister Bridgette Mabandla led a panel focused on matters related to organisational structure.

"This included looking at matters related to sexual harassment and allegations related to human resources management," Pandor said.

Details of the officials involved were not divulged.

READ | Covid-19: Dirco closes OR Tambo Building after 2 staffers test positive

She said Open Water's report identified breaches in financial management, but arrived at conclusions and recommendations that were not consistent with the findings.

"The second report made recommendations related to improving overall management and leadership in the department. Based on the recommendations that were not aligned with the findings from the Open Water report, I will be appointing an external team to assess whether the findings in the report do not warrant further investigation, including a more thorough forensic investigation in some areas," she said.

Pandor said the recommendations that will emanate from the report will allow her to complement measures related to improving leadership and management issues that emerged from the report by Mabandla.

"This team will use the findings in the two reports as a basis for further investigations and recommendations. The findings in both reports will have to be treated as draft findings at this stage, given the need for further investigations.

"Given that these are draft findings, no action is proposed until the team that I will appoint completes the process initiated by my predecessor," Pandor said.

Amabhungane reported in May that Sisulu appointed Open Water Advanced Risk Solutions to run her investigation of the Amatola Water Board and its suspended chief executive, Vuyo Zitumane.

Open Water appears to have a connection with one of the central figures in the Amatola saga, advocate Lungile Bomela. 

Bomela is not accused of any wrongdoing, but he is the chairperson of Empowering Water Solutions (EWS), whose sand water extraction technology was allegedly being touted by Sisulu and her adviser, Mphumzi Mdekazi. 

Both Zitumane and her counterpart at Lepelle Northern Water have sworn affidavits blaming Sisulu's initiative to investigate them on their resistance to contracting with Bomela's EWS.

AmaBhungane has established that Open Water executive chairperson, Reavell Nkondo, is a director alongside Bomela of a Free State non-profit organisation that goes by the name of the ELF Foundation.

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