5 February 2017

South Africa: DA Calls for Public Protector Investigation Into Myeni's Spending

press release

The DA will write to the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request that she launch an investigation into chairperson of the Mhlathuze Water Board, Dudu Myeni's, flagrant abuse of public funds.

City Press today revealed Myeni's travel invoices and itineraries of 23 trips that were booked and paid for by the Mhlathuze Water Board.

The documents show trips totaling R678 761 on five-star hotels, business-class travel, hotel room service and a limousine ride.

This extravagant expenditure was allowed even though Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had announced cost-cutting measures which limited air travel, car hire, accommodation and conferences.

In terms of the Public Protector Act, the Public Protector is empowered to investigate "abuse or unjustifiable exercise of power or unfair, capricious, discourteous or other improper conduct or undue delay by a person performing a public function".

The truth is that Myeni should not have been allowed to be in this position at all. On 28 November 2016, the Pietermaritzburg High Court found that the extension of her term as Chairperson of the Mhlathuze Water Authority was unlawful and that it be set aside.

The Mhlathuze Water Authority's 2014/15 and 2015/16 annual reports indicate that Myeni was paid R538 000 in 2015 with an additional R508 000 in 2016. Since a court has ruled that her appointment from February 2015 to date was unlawful, Myeni should pay back the full R1 046 000.

Last week the DA wrote to the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, requesting that she investigate a clear breach of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) by Myeni and received an unsatisfactory response with no indication of what steps the Minister is taking to ensure accountability.

Clearly the Minister has no interest in ensuring that officials who abuse public funds are held to account.

It is high time that Myeni be made to account for her flagrant abuse of the public purse. A public protector investigation is the appropriate means to ensuring this.

Tarnia Baker MP

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Human Settlements

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