Public Protector to probe deputy minister

The Public Protector is to conduct a preliminary investigation into allegations of improper conduct against Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba.

Gigaba had been informed of this by letter, the Public Protector’s office said on Thursday.

It said this “own initiative investigation” would seek to determine the merits of the allegations against Gigaba, and the way the matter should be dealt with.

Gigaba allegedly sent flowers to his wife, Thabo, at the expense of the department. Bouquets costing up to R547 each were apparently ordered for her.

He has also been accused of setting up a private organisation known as The Malusi Gigaba Institute of Leadership, which was run from his office.

Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana said he would examine claims that Gigaba’s department paid for flight tickets and car rental of individuals associated with this organisation.

The Public Protector Act makes provision for the Protector to investigate at his own initiative any alleged maladministration in connection with the affairs of government.

Last month, the Democratic Alliance called for Parliament’s watchdog public accounts committee to probe allegations of irregular spending by Gigaba.

The Freedom Front Plus demanded an independent inquiry into the allegations, saying they amounted to an abuse of his powers as deputy minister.

Complaint

Meanwhile, the DA has lodged a complaint of improper conduct with the Public Protector against Employment Equity Commission (EEC) chairperson Jimmy Manyi.

“Manyi appears to be abusing his position as EEC chairperson to run an increasingly politicised and racially divisive campaign, seemingly on behalf of the Black Management Forum (BMF),” DA spokesperson Anchen Dreyer said on Thursday.

In a letter to Mushwana, she said the DA suspected Manyi might have violated the provisions of the Employment Equity Act regarding impartiality and undermining the commission’s integrity.

On May 22 this year, Manyi presented to the portfolio committee on labour the seventh EEC annual report 2006/07.

Its contents were used to advise the minister, or to inform the execution of any other function in terms of section 30 of the Act.

But, the scientific quality and validity, and therefore the impartiality, of the research, analyses and conclusions presented in this report were suspect, Dreyer said.

She said it contained a number of anomalies, featured non-comparable data sets, was selective in its presentation of the facts, and contained a number of technical and computational errors.

She said its findings were contradicted by other important and trusted data-bases and studies, such as the South African Advertising Research Foundation’s AMPS Surveys and the UCT/Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing and TNS Research Surveys’ study on the black middle class or so-called “black diamonds”.

She said it also contradicted evidence of the skills shortage experienced by the public sector as reflected in the Public Service Commission’s 2007 State of the Public Service Report and State of Representativeness in the Public Service Report.

Lastly, it was not supported by the vacancy figures for departments and entities across all spheres of government, she said.

Manyi had used this seriously flawed report to conduct a campaign through his position as EEC chair, as well as through his position as BMF president.

The latter organisation’s increasing partnering with the EEC in the execution of this campaign had become such a regular feature that their viewpoints had become indistinguishable from one another to the public.

“Mr Manyi has embarked on this campaign to advance a particular subjective viewpoint that accords with his own personal views and objectives, rather than with his role and position and the EEC,” Dreyer said.—Sapa

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