Following the two-month suspension of Premier Stan Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha on 1 November the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) came out with guns blazing.
The union’s Samson Magomane Branch in the Office of the Premier stated that they have noted with disappointment the manner in which Mathabatha has been handling the Mathivha fraud case and allegedly deliberately misleading the public. Branch Secretary Ndivhuwo Madzusa indicated that it was worrying that the fraud committed by Mathivha was being decorated and defended by the Premier who is supposed to be running a corrupt free administration. He went on to allege that this was not the first time Mathivha had defrauded the Office of the Premier by means of irregular travel claims under Mathabatha’s regime.
“Instead of subjecting him to disciplinary processes the Premier entered into a corrupt arrangement to have him pay the money back. In this context the Premier’s action defeats the purpose of the office he occupies. Nehawu will not leave this matter unattended until justice is served, hence we have raised our disappointment with the Premier in a letter that was forwarded to his office,” Madzusa remarked.
Earlier it was reported that Mathivha had gone through a formal disciplinary process chaired by an external chairperson and it was recommended that he should be subjected to suspension. It was learnt that Mathivha’s suspension related to alleged irregular travel claims he made early in the year. According to information contained in a letter forwarded to the Office of the Premier by the Samson Magomane Branch dated 20 November 2019, Mathivha had reportedly defrauded the office by claiming an amount of R3 108,98 for traveling 427 km in his Jeep Wrangler Sahara 3,6 VVTR to and from a lodge in Lephalale to attend the Divisional Strategic meeting on 9 April 2018.
Madzusa alleged that Mathivha had not used his vehicle for the aforementioned trip but instead got a lift from two different officials to and from the venue of the meeting. The union further accused Mathabatha of unfairness as it is alleged that one top official at the Department of Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure who was reportedly found guilty of making irregular travel claims did not receive that same punishment. The one top official in question is the Department of Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure Head of Department (HOD) Timothy Seroka, who is accused of having allegedly contravened regulations pertaining to reimbursed official travel claims for June this year. It is alleged that Seroka had submitted a total monthly claim of R11 405,88 for trips undertaken during June this year for 1 790 km apparently travelled in his Mercedes-Benz ML350 while his vehicle was reportedly in for repairs during the specific period under claim.
Nehawu Provincial Secretary Jacob Adams stressed that Seroka committed the same crime as Mathivha hence he should be subjected to suspension as well. He further alleged that there was no indication that Seroka will face the music for his ill-doing. According to Adams, there must be consistency in the provincial government because rules can’t only apply to some officials. He added that it was wrong and unacceptable for Mathabatha to be selective when taking decisions against officials for ill-discipline.
Provincial government acting spokesperson Mamogo Ntuli highlighted that it was not always fair to compare cases primarily because each has its own merits and unique context. The Office of the Premier wishes to clarify that Mathivha’s suspension is not precautionary but a sanction, she stated and added that an investigator was appointed, a formal disciplinary hearing conducted and subsequently a sanction imposed. Ntuli further explained that in the case of Seroka, the Premier appointed an investigator to look into the matter. Consequently, all processes will be followed as dictated to by relevant labour prescripts, Ntuli concluded.
Story: ENDY SENYATSI