Monday, November 16, 2009

Public works minister in R45-million tender scandal

The rainbow nation colours should include only the colour brown, and shades of it - to represent the shit going on.

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Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge has fired his department's acting director general for refusing to grant a R45-million tender to a law firm he previously hired for his personal matters," The Sunday Independent

Doidge fired Solly Malebye, who is also the department's chief operating officer, for refusing to grant the contract to Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer without putting out a tender. The mandate of the firm is to provide forensic legal investigations for the department.

Malebye told the minister that awarding the company the contract was in breach of Treasury regulations. Doidge then sent Malebye a text message on November 3, informing him that he was relieved of his duties as acting director-general.

On the same day, he appointed Sam Vukela, who was acting chief operating officer, as acting director-general and gave him instructions in a text message to investigate and suspend Malebye, the paper reported.

The SMS read: "Given the direct involvement of the COO in the Virtual Buro contract, I am of the firm view that he should be placed on (cautionary) suspension with immediate effect, so that he does not interfere with the investigations and that the investigators have unhindered access to all information, documents and personnel that they may have to interrogate, please let me have your urgent response in this regard.

"The second reason is that he refused to carry an instruction from me to appoint Cliffe Dekker by the 15th of October (this not the serious offence) - Minister.

The offence Doidge wants Malebye to be investigated on is alleged to have happened 18 months ago but he still appointed him acting director-general in April this year.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer was hired by Doidge to check and clear his directorships when he was appointed minister in September 2008.

Department spokesman Koketso Sachane said in a statement that the investigations within the department related to the Auditor General's report into the department earlier this year. "There have for some time been allegations of corruption in procurement processes, including the awarding of tenders and contracts for buildings rentals.

"Following the Auditor-General's report earlier this year which gave the department a qualified audit, we agreed on the need for an independent investigation through a forensic audit of departmental activities," he said.

He said the minister was "determined to root out any corruption in the department, deal with offenders and protect the names of the vast majority of employees who are dedicated and honest public servants".

He could not be drawn to comment on Malebye's suspension and the sms' quoted by The Sunday Independent.
reported.

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