/ 19 June 2008

Weather service says charges ‘unfounded’

The bulk of allegations made by employees against members of senior management and non-executive board members at the South African Weather Service (SAWS) have proved to be unfounded, the service said on Thursday.

The SAWS was instructed by Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk to appoint forensic auditors, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), to investigate a range of complaints and allegations made by employees.

”After studying the report earlier this month, the SAWS board accepts all findings, conclusions and recommendations contained in the PWC report,” said Khungeka Njobe, chairperson of the SAWS board.

”We have made the full report available to the minister and reported on actions the board and senior management will take to correct those areas that require tightening of controls.

”The SAWS senior management has also been notified of these and is taking action.”

The allegations included misconduct and wasteful, irregular expenditure by senior managers, as well as an alleged lack of appropriate oversight by the former board, whose term expired at the end of March.

The allegations were reported to the Democratic Alliance’s anti-corruption hotline in March and those who made the allegations said they wished to remain anonymous.

Some misconduct allegations included the appointment of consultants with close links to a senior manager, and to a board member in the service.

Other allegations against some of the board and against other senior managers included irregular travel expenses, and phone calls.

”The board would like to thank SAWS staff and management and the stakeholders for their support and understanding … we trust that relationships already built between SAWS management, staff and stakeholders will continue serving the best interests of the organisation,” Njobe said. – Sapa