Media Release: Minister comments on alleged tender corruption and maladministration in KNP
On 17th February 2012 the Democratic Alliance opposition party sent me 15 parliamentary questions (PQs) alleging widespread tender corruption and maladministration at the Kruger National Park. The PQs raised accusations of "personal connections" or "close associations" between certain senior SANParks officials with service-providers bidding for tenders. Unfortunately the "personal connections" or "close associations" were undefined, and appeared to be speculative and spurious.
On closer examination I noticed that the said allegations bear a striking resemblance to a "dossier" I received last year from the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs, Hon Adv Johnny De Lange (MP), who had received it from one official who claimed to have been dismissed from his position as security manager in the Kruger National Park for exposing tender corruption and maladministration. It later transpired, thereafter, that the said official was dismissed in June 2011 for corrupt activities and abuse of SANParks property. It was said he was dismissed for circumventing the Supply Chain Management Policy and awarding contracts for the acquisition and maintenance of CCTV equipment to companies in which his younger brother and his friend, were directors. Other companies that are alleged to have benefitted from the said official’s “generosity" included names given as encapsulated in Annexure A. These companies had never traded with the Kruger National Park before the said official’s appointment in 2008. His modus operandi was to split amounts to levels below the R500 000 Treasury Regulations’ threshold which would have compelled him to go for a full tender process. The total amount involved was R 4 760 098. 00. It is interesting to note that in his “dossier of tender corruption” that he submitted as complaints to a number of parties, the said official conveniently omitted to mention the companies associated with his name.
Furthermore the said official was also found guilty for unauthorized use of a SANParks vehicle Registration FLF 918 MP, failure to comply with existing rules governing the use of official vehicles and for exceeding the speed limits while driving inside and outside the park (vehicles are fitted with Tracker and can show speed travelled). Needless to say the said official did not survive both the corruption and abuse of property disciplinary hearings. He was summarily dismissed in June 2011. He appealed the dismissals for the two cases, one subsequent to the other but was unsuccessful. It is further alleged that soon after his dismissal he tried to lobby the CEO of SANParks, through an anonymous email from an untraceable email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, telling him to set aside the disciplinary results against said official in order to avoid a media exposure on tender irregularities and maladministration which he claimed had reached epidemic levels. The CEO of SANParks, tells me that he refused to bargain with guilty employees and so did not attend to this email. The matter of the said official’s dismissal then went to the CCMA and deadlocked. It was referred for arbitration and it is now awaiting a trial date at the Labour Court.
While the above processes were underway, the said official began what can only be called a dirty-tricks campaign. It is said he delivered a “dossier of evidence of tender corruption” to the Auditor-General’s Office, City Press newspaper and the Public Protector simultaneously. The AG decided to extend the scope of SANParks annual audit to include the allegations. The results are reflected in a special section of the SANParks annual audit report for 2011/12 and did not find evidence of fraud, irregularities and non-compliance with supply chain management policy. The companies involved in this extended audit are listed in Annexure B. It found administrative gaps which needed to be strengthened around Treasury Practice Notes (4 and 8) in particular to which SANParks has obliged. City Press did not publish the story. The Public Protector has not yet concluded her investigation.
The SANParks Board, as an accounting authority, instituted a forensic investigation on the allegations of unethical relationships between its officials and certain service-providers. SizweNtsalubaGobodo audit firm was appointed to conduct a forensic investigation. The forensic report was completed in December 2011 and its recommendations were accepted by the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board at its January 2012 meeting. The forensic investigation exonerates the accused officials on allegations of corrupt relationships. The Audit and Risk Committee will be recommending the adoption of the forensic findings to the full Board at its next meeting scheduled for 20th March 2012.
In January 2012, I was alerted to the existence of a vitriolic and scathing Facebook Profile by one "Knp Mabundana/ Kelogs Mabundana/Kelogs Mabundanai/Kelogs Mabundy" which was and still is spewing bile and launching scathing attacks on SANParks and its officials for corruption and maladministration using aliases. The faceless blogger, whom we suspect to be the said official, is derogatory referring to my officials as “corrupt baboons and hyenas who have no morals”. The names of the companies that the DA alleges in its PQs to have gotten tenders through nepotism and corruption are named and shamed. Among these are listed in Annexure C It is my hope that the Honorable Members of Parliament are not aiding the trial by the media campaign orchestrated by the said official against SANParks and its officials, thereby aiding in the undermining of a state institution.
In conclusion I would also like to make reference to the recent Mail & Guardian (17.02.2012) story on the same subject. I have no doubt that the said official was behind the story and the M&G used our elected representatives’ comments to give credence to his uncorroborated and wild accusations. SANParks has since approached the South Gauteng High Court, to seek relief from these unprecedented attacks on itself, systems and officials. Charges have also been laid with the police and other relevant state authorities. The smear campaign is not just causing reputational damage to SANParks and its officials, it is also sowing public distrust in the institution affecting its relations with financiers and donors and instilling disobedience among staff thus making it difficult for managers to maintain discipline.
It is in the above context that the responses to the parliamentary questions should be understood.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE MINISTER OF WATER AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS ON 9 MARCH 2012
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