The DA will be writing to the Minister of Trade and Industry (DTI), Rob Davies, requesting that he launch a full review into the tenure of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) CEO, Ms Philisiwe Mthethwa, and act to discharge her from her current position.
This follows the announcement this week by Minister Davies that Ms Mthethwa will not be suspended as NEF CEO despite a forensic investigation being conducted against her involving allegations of wrongdoing made by a purported whistle-blower.
According to the DA's own analysis, several factors clearly indicate that Mthethwa is no longer suited to lead the NEF to execute its mandate of promoting and facilitating broad-based black economic participation:
According to the NEF's 2013 Annual Report, Ms Mthethwa earned total remuneration of R4.512 million in the year ended 31 March 2013 - including bonus and performance payments of R1.518 million. The DA will be submitting Parliamentary questions to determine what the basis of the bonus payments were;
Recent reports in the press revealed that the NEF approved a R9.8 million loan to a company belonging to Ms Mthethwa's brother, Nkanyiso Buthelezi. It is alleged that Ms Mthethwa was present at the meeting that approved the loan. R243,000 of the loan had been paid out three years ago, with no repayments being made since then. These allegations must be formally investigated by Minister Davies;
Various recent investments by the NEF do not appear to be sufficiently broad-based. The DA will write to the chair of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, asking her to call Ms Mthethwa to appear before Parliament to account for the following investment decisions by the NEF as included in its 2013 Annual Report:
R15 million investment in Finesse Energy (Pty) Ltd that created no new jobs;
R4.2 million investment in Build It (Ian Carter Technical Services cc) that created no new jobs;
R1.1 billion investment opportunity in Thin Film Solar Technology (Pty) Ltd that will only result in 150 direct job opportunities;
R35 million investment opportunity in Tyre Energy Extraction (Pty) Ltd resulting in only 37 full-time employment opportunities;
R1.2 billion investment opportunity in Hluhluwe (Pty) Ltd that will only result in 18 direct permanent employment opportunities;
Despite receiving over R2.4 billion from government in 2005, the NEF is currently again seeking recapitalisation from DTI and has suspended all investment and financing decisions. The DA will ask Minister Davies to table this request in Parliament to allow for debate before any recapitalisation decision is made.
The NEF should be committing itself to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) initiatives that stimulate economic growth by providing support to small business owners to help them start up, grow and create jobs in the sectors where our economic growth prospects rely on the success of first-time business owners and Small Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs).
These types of measures are precisely what the DA has called for in our Plan for Growth and Jobs and Green Paper on Economic Inclusion.
Minister Davies must review Ms Mthethwa and the NEF to ensure our objectives of broad-based black economic empowerment are achieved.
The DA believes that the time has come for Ms Mthethwa to be relieved of her duties.
Wilmot James, Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry