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Bheki Cele

South Africa: Gordhan’s war on incompetence and impunity


Mail & Guardian

By Faranaaz Parker

July 24, 2012

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has revealed plans for the national treasury to take a much tighter grip on local governments‘ finances. See the full report here.

Following the release of a damning report on the scale of mismanagement at municipal levels, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday revealed that the national treasury would take a tighter grip on procurement processes across the country.

Gordhan announced that treasury would create a procurement oversight unit to actively enforce supply chain management at a national level and would shortly appoint a chief procurement officer. The position would be advertised in two weeks and would be established within the next two months.

“Where there are transactions for a particular size or type within the national domain there must be the ability to assess whether they meet market criteria in terms of prices [and] whether proper processes havebeen followed,” he said.

The announcement was an indictment of local government’s failure to spend and account for public money effectively.

The minister was speaking at the release of auditor general Terence Nombembe’s report on local government audit results, which showed that only 5% of all municipal entities – a total of 13 – had achieved clean audits for the year 2010/2011.

Gordhan said IT systems would be developed to allow the treasury to actively monitor compliance with financial management requirements so that it may demand information regarding procurements, such as how decisions were made and by whom.

Spending fiascos

The move may help prevent public spending fiascos such as the multibillion-rand leasing scandal that saw former police chief Bheki Cele and former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde sacked last year.

Gordhan said the government should be able to demonstrate that there were consequences for nonperformance and for working outside the law.

“At the moment, those consequences are not there. When consequences are not there continuously then a level of impunity develops,” he said.

He said the new oversight mechanism would require the help of law enforcement agencies, who would bear the responsibility of preparing cases against and prosecuting those guilty of corruption.

With reference to the auditor general’s report, Gordhan said he was particularly disappointed that some large metros, which had better skills and capacity than small municipalities, did not received clean audits.

“If they can’t meet simple criteria in financial management, then it’s a matter the treasury has to take a closer look at,” he said.

Nombembe’s damning report
Nombembe’s report showed there were three root causes behind the slow progress towards clean audits in local government.

The biggest problem, he said, was a general lack of consequence for poor performance. Modified audit results were simply considered the norm, he said.

In addition, over 70% of those audited did not have the minimum competencies and skills required to perform their jobs.

Worryingly, over half of the municipalities audited were slow in responding to the auditor general’s suggestions and were not taking ownership of key financial controls.

Nombembe said if these issues were not addressed, they would continue to weaken governance.

He also complained that most municipalities employed consultants in areas where they already had people to do the work, and even then the results were not as good as they should be.

Cedric Frolick, National Assembly house chairperson, agreed, saying: “What are the employees doing when 70% of the work is being done by people who must be paid for it on top of their salaries?”

“Why are people who are not doing their job, being allowed to keep on [not] doing it?”

Meeting the criteria
But Minister in the Presidency responsible for performance, monitoring and evaluation Collins Chabane said because of the way the three spheres of government were structured, it was difficult to make interventions in local government unless specific criteria had been met.

“It creates a complication where no other authority can intervene, by law, until that municipality makes a decision,” he said.

Chabane said in future, the performance of departments and institutions may be linked to the performance of the heads of those institutions.

“That will begin to bring accountability,” he said.

Meanwhile Subesh Pillay, chairperson of the South African Local Government Association, said it was important to remember that clean audits were a means to an end.

“That end is to ensure that local government become efficient and effective organs of service delivery,” he said.

South Africa: Police chief Bheki Cele fired by President Jacob Zuma


Global Post

By Eric Conway-Smith

June 12, 2012

Bheki Cele, suspended over allegations of dodgy property deals, has been replaced by Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega, South Africa’s first female police commissioner.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Bheki Cele has been fired as top police chief, South African President Jacob Zuma announced today.

Cele, suspended last year after allegations of unlawful property deals, has been replaced by Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega. She is South Africa’s first female national police commissioner.

Cele’s dismissal comes amid growing frustration in South Africa over corrupt and incompetent police, from traffic cops soliciting a bribe to the controversial appointments of some of the country’s highest-ranking police officials.

A board of inquiry last month found that Cele was not fit to hold office, and recommended he be dismissed.

“I have decided to release General Cele from his duties,” Zuma told reporters in Pretoria.

Allegations about Cele’s property deals were first reported in South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, on August 1, 2010.

A corruption investigator ruled last year that Cele and a government minister were involved in property deals that were “improper, unlawful, and amounted to maladministration.”

Public protector Thuli Madonsela investigated leases for buildings that were to have served as police headquarters in Pretoria and Durban, and found that the buildings were leased from a well-connected company at inflated prices.

She slammed Cele for his involvement in the deals, and called for disciplinary action against him by President Zuma.

In the Durban deal, police had offered $169 million to a politically connected property tycoon for a 10-year lease that was worth less than one third of that amount.

Cele’s predecessor, Jackie Selebi, is serving a 15-year jail sentence for corruption after being convicted of taking $156,000 in bribes from drug dealer Glenn Agliotti.

Why a South African Anti-Corruption Agency Must be Independent of the Police to be Effective


Institute for Security Studies

May 2, 2012

By Gareth Newham,  Head of the Crime and Justice Programme, ISS Pretoria

If it was not already clear why a dedicated anti-corruption agency capable of tackling powerfully connected people had to be independent of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the recent, and indeed ongoing failures of police leadership over the past few years should put this into perspective.

In 2010, ex-SAPS National Commissioner Jackie Selebi was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2011, the SAPS National Commissioner, Bheki Cele, was suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry into his fitness for office. This followed a finding by the Public Protector that his actions in relation to a R1.67 billion police lease deal were ‘improper, unlawful and amounted to maladministration.’

In addition, one of the most powerful SAPS Divisional Commissioners, head of Crime Intelligence Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, is facing an astonishing array of allegations implicating him and his close colleagues in murder, rape and wide-scale corruption.  The National Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa has been accused of halting the Hawks’ investigation into Mdluli so as to protect him from further criminal charges, given Mdluli’s willingness to use his position to support Jacob Zuma’s intention to run for a second term as ANC president. Moreover, there are allegations emerging from investigations by the Hawks that Mthethwa illegally benefitted from the SAPS Secret Service Account to the tune of R195 581 for renovations to his personal residence, which was authorised by Mdluli.

Whether or not these allegations are ultimately proven, they have certainly severely undermined the public image of the police and further demoralised many of the honest hard working police officials expected to place themselves at risk in fighting crime.  Moreover, such allegations point to reasons why the political elite might choose not to strengthen the independence and ability of the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations (DPCI), commonly known as the Hawks, to investigate corruption committed by those at the highest levels of government…Read more.

The Big Interview: ‘My fight is about principles, not leases’


Xolani Mbanjwa
Roux Shabangu, the billionaire property developer at the centre of the R1.7bn leases saga that led to Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde being fired and police commissioner Gen Bheki Cele suspended, believes that he has been treated unfairly.Shabangu, who has been hogging the headlines since he clinched the controversial lease contract from the Department of Public Works that have since been deemed “unlawful” by public protector Thuli Madonsela, is unhappy about the findings.He made this clear in an interview during which his wife, Percy, a law student, sat alongside him at his plush offices in Irene, Pretoria. Shabangu only has a matric.Shabangu bitterly complains how being black has unfairly thrust him into the spotlight and accuses white property developers – and his former business partner – of working with the media to tarnish his name.

His business portfolio boasts a string of shopping centres, mines in South Africa and Swaziland, properties, boats and vehicles. Shabangu scoffed at allegations that he clinched the lucrative lease contract for the new police headquarters in Pretoria only because of his political and business connections.

“People think I’ve got money because Zuma is the president. It’s rubbish. Why didn’t I need Thabo Mbeki when I was building Jabulani Mall (in Soweto) and other developments?

“Why would I rely on connections now? I’ve always had connections. I don’t have unique ones now. I know the same people I knew back then,” said the 37-year-old father of four.

The former amateur boxer said the success he’s achieved “especially at my age should be celebrated, but you can see that some people are aggrieved about my business”.

“Zuma is 69, I’ve just turned 37,” Shabangu said, introducing a new conversation while sidestepping the question about inflated leases he signed with government.

He confidently declared that his legal team would clear his name and successfully defend Mahlangu-Nkabinde’s bid to get the Sanlam-Middestad building lease nullified by the Pretoria High CourtRead more.

South Africa police chief faces suspension


AFP – Sat, Sep 24, 2011

South Africa’s top policeman is expected to be suspended in the coming days over allegedly fraudulent police leases, the Sunday Times reported.

According to the South African Sunday paper, President Jacob Zuma will sign a letter suspending Bheki Cele upon his return from New York, where he attended the UN general assembly.

The national police commissioner was accused by the country’s anti-graft body of turning a blind eye to lease agreements reached with businessman Roux Shabangu for police office space at three times the market rate.

Zuma’s spokesman was quoted by the newspaper as admitting that a suspension had “the potential for causing some uncertainty in the police force.”

South Africa’s crime intelligence chief Richard Mdluli appeared in court on Thursday over fraud allegations, adding to a murder charge which led to his suspension in March.

Cele was appointed police chief in 2009 to replace Jackie Selebi, who had also been suspended on corruption charges and was last year sentenced to 15 years in jail.

South Africa: ‘No more cash-cow contracts for clueless comrades’


Mail&Guardian Online

September 22, 2011

The days of the department of public works being run like a “cash cow” are over, minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde said in Sandton on Thursday. 

Contracts are given to people who don’t even have a clue what they are supposed to do,” she told delegates at the Engineering Council of South Africa’s summit.

There were roads and bridges falling apart around the country, and of the 41 departmental contracts reviewed by the Special Investigating Unit, all were found to be non-compliant.

It’s a shame. I am paying for buildings that are falling apart. Many are not being used, or maintained. They are just empty.”

Mahlangu-Nkabinde took office on October 31 last year, succeeding Jeff Doidge.

She said: “When I got into public works, I discovered it was just a cash cow.”

In two separate reports this year, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela held her and national police commissioner Bheki Cele responsible for a R500-million and R1.1-billion lease agreement with businessman Roux Shabangu for police office space in Pretoria and Durban.

She found the leases were concluded in an unlawful and improper way. Madonsela criticised the department for going ahead with the deals, in spite of legal opinion to the contrary and an earlier agreement that this would not happen until the public protector had completed her investigation.

Without referring to the lease controversy, Mahlangu-Nkabinde said: “We have created a lot of millionaires who do not care what happens to this country.

“I am interfering in areas where previous people were comfortable, but I am not in it for myself, I am in it for the country and for the years to come.

I want to remain an unpopular minister, because I will not give a ‘comrade’, who has no clue what he is doing, government projects.”

In the past weeks, her department announced it had already found R3-billion worth of tender irregularities in response to recommendations made by the protector…Read more.

South Africa’s Police Chief Accused Of ‘Maladministration’ Over Lease Deal


A Police car in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image via Wikipedia

RTT News

July 15, 2011

(RTTNews) – South Africa’s Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Thursday accused the country’s police chief Gen. Bheki Cele of “maladministration” and improper conduct in the procurement of leases for police office space in the eastern port city of Durban.

In her report, Madonsela alleged that the police buildings in Durban was leased for a ten-year period at inflated prices from Roux Property Fund, owned by politically well-connected real estate magnate Roux Shabangu.

Madonsela admitted that her team failed to find any evidence of criminality in the lease deal for the new police headquarters in Durban. She, however, insisted that the 1.16-billion rand deal, which she claimed at least three times the market rate for the building, was “illegitimate” and unlawful.”

She also urged President Jacob Zuma to take action against Cele and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde over the inflated lease agreement, pointing out that the pair was ultimately responsible for the “fatally flawed” deal.

“The failure of the national Commissioner to ensure that the procurement process complied with the said legal requirements… resulted in the invalid conclusion of the lease agreement to the detriment of the state, and therefore constituted maladministration,” she was quoted as saying in the 132-page report…Read more.

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