Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
22 Nov 2020
10:49 am

Public enterprises dept condemns media claims that ‘disgruntled whistleblowers’ formed campaign

Citizen Reporter

'The DPE reserves its right to raise grievances with unethical and false news reporting with the appropriate authorities and through established channels,' the department said in a statement.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan during the release of a Special Paper on Eskom, GCIS, Pretoria, 29 October 2019. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has slammed “misleading” reports that officials implicated in investigations have mounted a public campaign against the department. 

In a statement issued on Saturday, the department said media reports allege those implicated in investigations feel they are “being targeted” by the DPE. 

The statement refers to articles dating back to March that appeared in the Sunday Independent newspaper. 

The articles were branded an “attack” on chief of staff in the department, Nthabiseng Borotho, her qualifications and appointment. 

The department said it dealt with allegations in a public statement on 7 March, but that allegations against Borotho have once again emerged, in the same publication. 

The DPE’s statement in March includes questions asked by Sunday Independent investigative journalist, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, in which it is asked that Borotho confirm or deny that she failed her matric year at Fezeka High School, confirm or deny that she used to work for the State Security Agency, but resigned after being investigated for fraud, corruption and embezzlement, whether Borotho “orchestrated” appointing Nancy Panduva to the DPE, who is allegedly Borotho’s half sister, and if she was involved in appointing Debbie Molopa, allegedly a long-time friend of Borotho, to the department. 

Borotho was also asked whether she drives a Lexus state car with a state-issued petrol card, and if she defaulted a payment to First National Bank. 

“The Ministry respects, supports and encourages media freedom. However, first, the time given given to respond to the above questions is unreasonable, unfair and wholly inadequate. 

“Second, Ms Borotho and the Ministry emphatically reject and deny these allegations and any insinuation in the newspaper’s reporting that may arise from them.”

The department went on to confirm that Borotho matriculated in 1997, that she never worked for the State Security Agency “or any other intelligence agency”, and that the ministerial staff appointments are not done solely by Borotho. 

“She drives her own vehicle and has, like other Ministerial staff, on occasion used a vehicle of the Ministry for her official duties. 

“Ms Borotho’s personal financial affairs are a private matter.

“Since the Sunday Independent and all titles of the Independent Media group have elected to end their membership of the South African National Editor’s Forum and to no longer subject themselves to the national Press Code, or the authority of the Press Ombud, their news reporting can no longer be objectively challenged or adjudicated upon, other than before court. 

“This has necessitated this cautionary note to all other media.”

State capture implications 

The department conceded the DPE had been the centre of the “state capture project”, and has become the subject of “repeat political interference to weaken its institutional capability and its crucial functions of oversight over key strategic SOE’s like Transnet, Eskom, Denel and SAA.”

But it said that by the time the current administration assumed office, a number of internal investigations had been commissioned by the DPE “into acts of corruption, malfeasance and irregular appointments.”

Other matters being investigated by forensic investigators include tender irregularities, the irregular appointment of staff, and the distribution of confidential information. 

The DPE said some officials have been placed on precautionary suspension, and others terminated for non-performance. 

Among these is Tshegofatso Motaung, as an investigation into mismanagement of a service provider and “possible fruitless expenditure” is currently underway. 

“Further, it should be pointed out that her transfer with other officials from the Free State provincial government to the DPE by the former Director-General, Mr Richard Mogokare Seleke, remains an area of investigation.

“The DPE reserves its right to raise grievances with unethical and false news reporting with the appropriate authorities and through established channels.”

Compiled by Nica Richards

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.