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Mpumalanga HODs, CFOs must be trained in procurement, Mkhwebane

All Mpumalanga government department HODs, CFOs and Chiefs of Staffs must be trained on procurement, says public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

In a rare investigation on the conduct of Mpumalanga provincial government, Mkhwebane found then Mpumalanga province’s director-general, Nonhlanhla Mkhize, culpable of financial misconduct.

This was after Mkhize bought three luxury cars, a BMW X6, an Audi A8 and a Range Rover for former Mpumalanga premier, David Mabuza, in a space of one year.

Mkhwebane directed the Mpumalanga provincial treasury to train all heads of departments, chief financial officers and chiefs of staff on the Ministerial Handbook and Treasury Regulations on procurement of official vehicles.

“Within 60 working days from the date of this report, conduct a workshop with the Heads of Departments, Chief Financial Officers and Chiefs of Staff on the provisions of the Ministerial Handbook, Treasury Regulations on the procurement of official vehicles to prevent recurrence of these matters,” said Mkhwebane on Friday.

Senior managers within the public service are expected to know the requirements of the Public Finance and Management Act (PFMA), which aims to regulate financial management in the national and provincial governments.

Mkhwebane, however, found that Mpumalanga province’s most senior civil servant, then director-general, Mkhize, violated both the Ministerial Handbook, National Treasury Practice Note 8 of 2007/08 on procurement of vehicles.

The public protector’s investigation followed a Ziwaphi expose on 10 January 2014, that the premier’s office bought R5 million worth luxury vehicles for Mabuza.

Mabuza’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, claimed that the premier’s office followed all due procurement processes.

“We wish to state that all processes and regulations were followed in purchasing both vehicles for the Premier based on his entitlements. It should be noted that on a number of occasions, the Premier had to do his work utilising borrowed vehicles from the mayors and some members of the executive council,” said Mncwango at the time.

Mkhwebane’s investigation, however, found that this was not the case.

“The allegation that the Office of the Premier irregularly procured the official vehicles, a BMW X5, Audi A8, Lexus and a Range Rover Vogue, for the former Premier of Mpumalanga Province, Mr David Mabuza is substantiated,” said Mkhwebane.

The public protector also found that the office of the premier violated paragraph 1.1.3 of the Ministerial Handbook and paragraph 3.4.1 and 3.4.2 of the National Treasury Practice Note No 8 of 2007/08.

Mkhwebane said that premier Refilwe Mtsweni must within 14 days report Mkhize to KwaZulu-Natal premier, Sihle Zikalala to take disciplinary action against her.

Mkhize is now the director-general in KZN province.

Mkhwebane found that Mabuza did not participate in the purchase of the vehicles and cleared him of any wrongdoing, even though he benefited from the irregularly acquired vehicles.

Mkhwebane’s finding was a direct contrast to her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela’s finding on former president Jacob Zuma on his Inkandla compound.

In Zuma’s case, Madonsela found that Zuma benefited from an irregularity and ordered the former president to pay, however, in Mabuza’s case, Mkhwebane found no wrongdoing by Mabuza, and did not investigate that he benefited from the irregularly procured vehicles, some of which his family used as personal vehicles.

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