Housing agency board axed as Sisulu cleans house

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (David Harrison)

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (David Harrison)

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has axed the board of the troubled Housing Development Agency. Its top leadership was previously suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct and financial mismanagement.

Sisulu’s spokesperson, Makhosini Mgitywa, confirmed on Wednesday that Sisulu had “dissolved” the agency’s board of directors with effect from July 29.

The current board had been appointed by former human settlements minister Nomaindia Mfeketo last December, after the board suspended chief executive Pascal Moloi and four executives.

READ MORE: Housing schemes regulator goes from bad to worse

The suspensions were for allegedly running a sex-for-jobs racket at the agency.

Mfeketo then reversed their decision on Moloi and reinstated him, before doing an about-turn and replacing him again — with board member Johan Minnie appointed as chief executive.

At the same time, Mfeketo also replaced the board, headed by Mavuso Msimang, on the grounds that it had extended its mandate without permission to do so. The decision sparked a sharp response from Msimang, a veteran corruption buster and public sector executive.

READ MORE: ‘Minister caused HDA board crisis’

It is not clear why Mfeketo somersaulted over Moloi and whether she acted within the housing agency’s constitution. This states that the chief executive and chief financial officers are accountable to the board and not the minister.

Sisulu’s spokesperson Mgitywa said the new minister had dissolved the board as it was “not appointed in compliance with the procedures and practices established by the Cabinet”.

Mgitywa added that the decision to appoint the current board, headed by Nontobeko Ntsinde and deputy Derrik Block, had not been placed before Cabinet for its “concurrence”.

It is not clear at this stage what has been the outcome of an internal investigation into Moloi, and the other suspended executives and managers. Those four other executives that were suspended were: performance management executive Mcezi Mnisi; development management executive Mandla George; head of built environment Mooketsi Mphahylele; and project manager Lungisa Mapuma.

READ MORE: State calls housing agency to order

The executive’s suspension last year by the housing agency’s board came after a whistleblower informed them of claims that executives were abusing their office and promoting female staffers in exchange for sexual favours.

A firm of attorneys conducted an initial investigation into the claims and allegations of financial mismanagement. It recommended that the group of executives be suspended pending a further probe.

Moloi has challenged his suspension, but it is not clear at this point what has happened with that action.

Sisulu’s spokesperson Mgitywa said that an advert calling for nominations would be placed in the media and that existing board members had been told they were welcome to re-apply.

The housing agency’s spokesperson, Katlego Moselakgomo, said he would update the Mail & Guardian as to the progress of the investigation into Moloi and his fellow executives.

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