The Ithala Development Finance Corporation has come out in support of its board chairperson, Roshan Morar, who is at the centre of a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) probe into a questionable R4-million personal protective equipment (PPE) award to one of his companies.
The provincial government’s investment entity, which falls under KwaZulu-Natal’s economic development ministry, said it had “no basis” to question the integrity of Morar, a politically connected auditor appointed to the boards of a number of key state entities during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure.
Ithala group reputation manager Sitandiwe Dimba said Morar had provided the entity with “detailed particulars” of the matter and that it had “no basis to question his integrity” until the outcome of the investigation is finalised.
Morar and his wife, Jyoti, are sole directors of Amakhono Capital, an investment company that sold the KwaZulu-Natal education department backpack sanitisers valued at R4-million. The tender is being investigated by the SIU, which confirmed the probe last week.
Another of his companies, auditing firm Morar Incorporated, was appointed by the department to investigate the disappearance of a consignment of face masks during June, despite Morar being a PPE provider.
He defended both education department awards, saying they had been made in accordance with procurement processes.
Morar said Amakhono “continues to support government’s efforts to ensure transparency in the PPE sector and has accordingly engaged openly on the emergency items supplied by it to the DoE [department of education]. We can confidently state that our affairs are in order and that we will continue, as and when required, to support government’s response to the pandemic.”
Morar Incorporated is also at the centre of the controversial R90-million eThekwini audit contract that resulted in city manager Sipho Nzuza being suspended pending an investigation into the award.
The former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board chairperson was appointed to head the Ithala board in 2017. His auditing firm is on a number of government audit panels, including those of eThekwini and the education department.
Morar was on the board of the PIC when he presided over the loss of R9-billion through loans to the Lancaster Group while acting as a director of L101, a Lancaster subsidiary.
In August former judge Yvonne Mokgoro was appointed by the PIC to implement the recommendations of the Mpathi Commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety regarding the PIC, which found L101 had made R114-million from the deal.
PIC spokesperson Deon Botha this week declined to comment on the process.
Dimba defended Morar.
“Ithala is committed to transparency and good governance. Our chairman Mr Morar has furnished us with detailed particulars outlining the matter you refer to. We value the leadership Mr Morar brings to the Ithala board and until the outcome of the probe is finalised we have no basis to question his integrity.”
Dimba said complaints against Morar and chief operating officer Pearl Bhengu would be “thoroughly investigated to ascertain the validity of the allegations being made”.
“Any breach in Ithala’s code of conduct or any violation of legislation will be dealt with in accordance with due process,” she said.
KwaZulu-Natal economic development MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube also appears to be awaiting the outcome of the SIU investigation before taking any action.
“The matter has been brought to my attention. At the appropriate time, I will indicate my course of action,” she said.