Public Protector recommends steps be taken against Deputy Minister

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pretoria - The Public Protector has recommended that steps be taken against Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, for failure to cooperate with his investigation into allegations that he misappropriated public funds.

"Mr Gigaba's failure, without any just cause, to cooperate properly and diligently and without delay with the investigation was improper and unnecessarily delayed the conclusion of a matter that was in the public interest," said Public Protector, Advocate Lawrence Mushwana on Wednesday.

Advocate Mushwana was speaking during a media briefing to report on the findings of investigated complaints that were of interest to the public.

"We recommend that the Speaker of the National Assembly [Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde] takes appropriate steps to ensure that Mr Gigaba's failure to comply with his constitutional obligation to cooperate properly with our office is addressed."

The Public Protector's office initiated an investigation into allegations that the Deputy Minister misappropriated funds when in 2007 he sent flowers to his wife at the expense of the Department of Home Affairs and that the Office of the Deputy Minister paid for flight tickets and car rentals of several private individuals on several occasions.

"The finalisation of the investigation was delayed because of an enquiry into these allegations by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the failure of Mr Gigaba to cooperate properly or at all with our office."

The matter was also investigated by the accounting officer of the department in terms of the Public Finance Management Act.

"From the investigation it was found that the expenditure incurred by the Office of the Deputy Minister in respect of flowers sent to Mr Gigaba's wife was irregular and fruitless and wasteful; and the allegations relating to travelling expenses incurred by the Office of the Deputy Minister were unfounded," said Advocate Mushwana.

He further said that Mr Gigaba noted the error and had reimbursed the expenditure concerned.

However, the Portfolio Committee's investigation revealed that the financial control mechanisms of the Office of the Deputy Minister needed to be improved and the Public Protector had therefore recommended that the Director General of the Department Mavuso Msimang improves the financial control mechanisms of the office of the deputy minister.