Province 'wasting money' on disciplinary hearing

The North West government is wasting public funds on the disciplinary hearings of two executive managers who have resigned from the North West Housing Corporation.

This is according to Lesedi Matlholwa, who along with Wandile Bozwana was suspended pending a forensic investigation that led to their facing internal charges.

Matlholwa said on Thursday that the resultant disciplinary hearing will establish only what has already been found by the forensic investigation.

“Part of the conditions we indicated in our resignation letters was the fast-tracking of the disciplinary hearing,” the two said in a statement. “It is our view that the hearing is dragged unduly to benefit the investigators and attorneys who draw huge sums of funds as fees.”

The two were charged on several counts ranging from gross insubordination, unbecoming conduct, misrepresentation on remuneration work they did outside their formal employment, as well as their failure to disclose fully outside financial interests.

The North West minister for development, local government and housing, Phenye Vilakazi, said this week he is not prepared to “rest content” with the resignations, since the men were charged with serious offences.

“We have decided that the disciplinary hearing should rather continue as a fact-finding enquiry.

“However, the chairperson will still be required to make written findings in respect of all the charges that were initially levelled against Messrs Bozwana and Matlholwa.”

The chairperson will also make recommendations to the housing corporation regarding possible criminal charges or civil proceedings against the men, said Vilakazi.

Matlholwa said if such proceedings were to follow, the North West government should have already taken the allegations to the police. “It’s for them [the police] to make a judgement call.”

The two men said they resigned and did not attend the disciplinary hearings because they would have no bearing on them beyond the expiry of their contracts of employment.

Owing to the breakdown of the employer-employee relationship, they see little chance of having their contracts renewed, they said. “We have been in suspension for almost a year, drawing full salaries and benefits from the housing corporation without providing any service in return.”

The two attended disciplinary enquiries in November last year, as well as in March, April and May this year. Another round of hearings is scheduled to start on Thursday next week.

Matlholwa and Bozwana further said that a media briefing in August last year created an impression that charges against them centred on fraud involving the misuse of public funds.

In fact, they centred on non-disclosure of financial interests and the payment of performance bonuses, they said.

“The housing corporation has always been aware of our business interests,” they said. “At our appointment a security-clearance exercise was undertaken by the National Intelligence [Agency] at the request of the employer, which included declaring financial interests.”—Sapa

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