THE owner of the two companies that were irregularly awarded multi-million rand contracts by the Mpumalanga government is Premier David Mabuza's former fiancée.
Now allegations have arisen that Mabuza's move not to suspend head of public works department Pricilla Nkwinika was a reward for giving contracts to his ex.
Sowetan reported last week that Mabuza had redeployed Nkwinika as deputy director-general in the premier's office despite the integrity management unit's recommendation that she be criminally charged.
This was after Nkwinika allegedly gave contracts to the two companies owned by Funi Ruth Silinda of Bushbuckridge, who was romantically involved with Mabuza.
Mabuza had paid ilobolo for Silinda in 2000 but their marriage did not materialise.
On Friday Mabuza would not confirm or deny his relationship with Silinda, saying it was "a personal matter".
Silinda could not be reached for comment.
Mabuza said Nkwinika was moved to allow investigations to go on without her interference.
He said she would not be suspended since investigations against the alleged procurement irregularities were still continuing.
"You don't know how government works,"he said.
"The move to shift Nkwinika to the premier's office was not a promotion."
Mabuza was responding to a Sowetan report that he had promoted Nkwinika, despite the allegations.
The integrity management unit found that Nkwinika had awarded contracts to Lumkani Construction and Lumekani General Trading, companies that lacked capacity and charged inflated rates.
Mabuza again insisted that the investigation report leaked to Sowetan was incomplete and that he had appointed a commission of inquiry to probe the unit's findings.
The commission is chaired by the regional Mpumalanga court president, assisted by a practising attorney.
One of Silinda's firms built a clinic in Lochiel, Ermelo, for R14million, though clinics are usually built for about R5million.
The report also shows that Nkwinika appointed the same firm to build the Archives Building for R161m, lthough the costs are estimated at R94m.