Ngqula: Cabinet embarrassed

The Cabinet has been left with egg on its face after admitting that Public Enterprises Minister Brigitte Mabandla endorsed the SAA board's decision to pay out its former chief executive Khaya Ngqula without knowing how much money she was authorising.

Speaking to the media yesterday, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said when last week's Cabinet meeting asked Mabandla for the details of the settlement "she did not have the details of the rands and cents".

He said the settlement (estimated by the media to be nearly R8million) had "only been provided" to Cabinet this week.

"Cabinet acknowledges that it would not have taken the decision that it did last week if we had all the information," Maseko said.

Last week Cabinet issued a statement attacking the SAA board for reaching a settlement with Ngqula "without consulting" government.

But when the board appeared before Parliament on Tuesday, board chairman Jakes Gerwel revealed that Mabandla "had been consulted" and had authorised the board's decision.

Yesterday Maseko could not provide a convincing explanation for why Mabandla had told last week's Cabinet meeting that she had not been consulted by the board.

The DA has called for Mabandla to be fired.

Ngqula was fired this month after accusations of tender irregularities in a R1,5billion catering contract awarded to a consortium involving his wife's business partner, Vusi Sithole.