NORTHWEST DIRTY LAUNDRY ROT TOO DEEP

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A dirty laundry of North West during the administration of ousted former Premier Supra Mahumapelo involving two companies milking the province’s state purse has been uncovered.

The province now led by Premier Job Mokgoro which is now under administration of Section 100 this week confirmed that upon assumption of duty by the intervention team the matter concerning two companies Ayamah Engineering Consulting and Open Waters Risk Solutions were brought to the attention of the Administrator by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

In documents seen by this reporter the company Ayamah Engineering Consulting which was appointed in 2016 to provide project management services at the North West department of Public Works and Roads was paid R103 million in March 2017 for the rehabilitation of flood damage road infrastructure across the province before doing the job. This consulting company was also paid R124 124 906 million from 1 November 2016 to 31 March 2017 as well as R63 198 495 million from 1 April 2017 to 29 December 2017.

In responding to this reporter’s inquiry following an irregular payment of R103 million discovered by the Auditor’s General Report which ruffled feathers of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts lead by its chairperson Mr Mahlakeng Mahlakeng who expressed his disgust, MEC Gaoage Oageng Molapisi said the Administrator took decisive steps to address the above mentioned. The matter is being investigated by the National Treasury following the Administrator’s recommendation inspired by Scopa and AG’s findings.

The suspension and subsequent charging of the Head of Department, Mr Pakiso Mothupi and Mr Molefi Conrad Chwene who is the Chief Director of Roads Infrastructure which their disciplinary cases are currently on course.

Mahlakeng of Scopa said a criminal case has been opened to deal with the discrepancies that led to the irregular payment. This was also confirmed and echoed by Public Works MEC Molapisi who confirmed that cooperating with law enforcement on a criminal case opened by SCOPA against Mr Pakiso Muthupi on the R103 million payment matter. The Administrator has further disclosed the R103 million payment in the Department’s Irregular Expenditure Register to ensure that the matter is also accounted for in the financials of the Department. The administrator also instituted an investigation into these matters which are being conducted by National Treasury.

With regard to mysterious deal of Open Waters Advanced Risk Solution which was appointed in 2014 by Premier Mahumapelo’s administration to undertake comprehensive forensic investigation in North West Public Works and Roads Department. Mahlakeng labelled this contract as a group of thugs who are on a mission to score political points and harass administrator who refused to take ill-informed corrupt instructions. This reporter has seen documents were Open Waters Advanced Risk Solution was paid R2 310 524.46 Million for 2016/2017 financial year, R1 607 576.70 for 2017/2018 financial year and R 2 233 143.5 for 2018/2019 financial year respectively totalling a whooping R6 151 244.66.

Mahlakeng said: “There’s nothing that this company is doing. This are just a group of criminals and thugs who are appointed to score political points of their masters. This contract must be stopped. Scopa agreed that this people must be stopped and if needs be we told the Public Works MEC that they must even take this matter to court. We find it disingenuous that this people are still there. This is the reason why HOD Muthupi was suspended. Open Waters Advanced Risk Solution was not supposed to be there in the first place. They must seize to exist for they are milking the state purse without doing anything.”

The departments financial and performance audit outcomes for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years improved from a disclaimer to a qualification with reduced matters of emphasis as an outcome of an implementation of the turn around strategy.

Without consultation nor input by the Department of Public Works and Roads, Open Waters Advanced Risk Solutions was appointed by the Premiers office through the Department of Finance in the financial year 2014/15 financial year to perform forensic investigations.

The assignment was paid for by The North West Department of Finance and completed in the financial year 2015/2016 after the department of Public Works and Roads raised a concern about the availability of a budget to pay for such services. Open Waters Advanced Risk Solutions continued to render services under the approval and management of HOD Pakiso Mothupi from the financial year 2016/17 to date with no defined contract duration.

Public Works and Roads MEC Molapisi also confirmed that the department has referred their contract and payments to an investigation which is currently being conducted by National Treasury. All payments of Departmental expenses are made in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Treasury Regulations.

Former Premier Mahumapelo could not be reached for comment after several attempts to contact him. The suspended HOD of Public Works Mr Muthupi said he is aware that his suspension is relation to the Ayamah confirming that the special investigation unit is investigating the matter. He also said has cooperated and given the report to the relevant authorities therefore it will disingenuous to comment further.

The current Premier Mokgoro said he reported during his state of the province address that he uncovered R2.5 Billion and suspended senior officials going through a number of disciplinary processes although there are some unfortunate delays. Mokgoro said however he will take the report to the NPA in the light of the developments that have been taking place there in the province following the current investigations by the administrators where President Cyril Ramaphosa has been beefing up the institutions.

by Mpho Dube

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