Corruption allegations at DAFF should be investigated – Annette Steyn

DA MP says Mlengana’s suspension highly worrisome as it comes on the back of him recently suspending Deputy DG

DA to request SIU Investigation into corruption allegations at Department of Agriculture

The DA will write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request that he authorise the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to investigate the allegations of large-scale corruption at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

On Tuesday, Minister Senzeni Zokwana, suspended the Director General (DG), Mike Mlengana, and removed all his power through an internal memo to staff at the Department after accusing him of abusing his power.

The DG was previously been suspended and reinstated on 23 April this year, after a High Court ruling found that his initial suspension was illegal and irregular.

The DA finds Mlengana’s suspension highly worrisome as it comes on the back of him recently suspending the Deputy DG, Siphokazi Ndudane, for her apparent role in corruption related to the irregular removal of abalone from government warehouses as well as her role in awarding dodgy contracts and alleged conflicts of interest.

As per the internal memo, Ndudane has been reinstated following the removal of Mlengana. It would seem as though the Minister is going out of his way to protect the Deputy DG, despite these damning allegations against her.

In addition, Parliament has allegedly been misled by false information pertaining to Ndudane's division.

The DA has it on good authority that a Parliamentary question related to break-ins at government warehouses for abalone understated the total amount of break-in at these warehouses.

The DA will also lay an Executive Ethics complaint with the Public Protector, as the Minister is ultimately responsible for Parliamentary responses, not an official.

These are serious allegations against senior officials at the Department and the SUI must investigate to ensure that those who are guilty are held to account.

The continuous crises in the Department’s leadership will have dire consequences on them delivering on their mandate of food security and economic prosperity.

If President Ramaphosa is serious about rooting out corruption and restoring good governance, he must step in and authorise an SIU investigation.

Issued by Annette Steyn, DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 20 June 2018