Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
20 Jun 2018
6:17 am

Clean-up at state-owned entities gathering steam

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

First the top echelons at Eskom felt the heat and now the same is happening at Denel, where CFO Odwa Mhlwana is facing the axe over 'misconduct'.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, who is spearheading the clean-up at state-owned enterprises. Picture: GCIS

The mass clean-up at state-owned entities is gathering momentum, as two chief financial officers were slapped with disciplinary action this week.

While the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) announced it had begun disciplinary proceedings against former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh, Denel CFO Odwa Mhlwana was also facing the axe after allegations of misconduct led to his suspension this week.

Independent accounting body Saica has charged Singh for allegedly conducting himself in a manner that was “discreditable, dishonourable, dishonest, irregular or unworthy, or which is derogatory to the institute, or tends to bring the profession of accountancy into disrepute”.

He also stands accused of having failed to maintain and adhere to the fundamental principles in the Saica Professional Code of Conduct for Chartered Accountants.

Singh was one of several former Eskom executives implicated in allegations of state capture.

Denel spokesperson Vuyelwa Qinga said she could neither confirm nor deny that the allegations against Mhlwana were linked to the broader state capture network, which would be investigated via a parliamentary process.

“I have not seen any specific allegation that we want to investigate but I am really not in a position to state it is related to state capture. As I said, the allegations were brought to the attention of the board by whistle-blowers, which translate to very serious allegations of misconduct.”

But trade union Solidarity claimed his suspension was linked, in part, to a pilot’s licence bursary that was awarded to the son of former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.

The union’s deputy general secretary, Deon Reyneke, said Solidarity expected more heads to roll at the institution.

“According to our knowledge, some of the allegations against Mhlwana are based on the fact that this bursary for a pilot’s licence was given to Mahumapelo’s son. We also know there will be two more people that form part of the misconduct investigation and we believe the chairperson will act soon on allegations of mismanagement.”

Meanwhile trade union federation Cosatu said it was concerned about the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC) R1.5 billion guarantees to Denel in light of the several corruption allegations at Denel.

But Cosatu was hopeful public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan’s mission to remove the rot at SOEs would put the PIC’s investments in a secure position.

“We support Mr Gordhan’s efforts to fix what is wrong with the SOEs and to take out the rotten potatoes. But if you look at corruption in this country, it has to be attended comprehensively,” said Deon Botha, head of corporate affairs at PIC.

“The PIC has the responsibility to make investing money on behalf of government employees’ pension funds a priority and the first question you ask is, where must we invest?

“We want to invest in areas where there will be returns, but both the private sector and the public sector are rife with corruption.”

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