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EMBATTLED Mpumalanga public works head Priscilla Nkwinika's attempt to escape possible criminal charges failed yesterday after Premier David Mabuza rejected her resignation letter.
Mabuza refused to accept the resignation letter, saying letting Nkwinika go while she is being investigated for corruption was not an option.
"If we allow her to resign now it might confirm allegations that I protect corrupt officials because government may not be able to discipline her accordingly," said Mabuza.
He said he would not be soft on corruption and vowed that several members of the public works department implicated in corruption would face "the full might of the law" if the allegations against her are true.
Over the past few weeks Sowetan has reported how senior officials in the department, including Nkwinika, flouted tender procedures and awarded multi-million rand contracts to undeserving companies. This information is contained in the "interim" investigation report by the integrity management unit in the premier's office.
Those companies include two belonging to Mabuza's ex-wife, Ruth Funi Silinda.
"My past relationship with Silinda, which is innocent, has been tarnished by assumptions that I had anything to do with cntracts she was irregularly awarded. I had nothing to do with that," Mabuza said.
The tenders were awarded between 2007 and 2008 while current deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thabang Makwetla was premier.
"The responsibility for procurement rests with the accounting officer of a department, not the executive authority. I was in any case not the executive authority of the public works department," Mabuza said.
Mabuza said he looked forward to next week when the investigation into the alleged irregularities is concluded.