Public protector clears Ace Magashule of misleading provincial legislature

ANC secretary general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule.
ANC secretary general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

ANC secretary general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule was on Wednesday exonerated by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane after a complaint by a member of the provincial legislature Roy Jankielsohn.

Jankielsohn alleged that Magashule twice misled the provincial legislature in his written responses to questions from members of the legislature.

The briefing, addressed by Mkhwebane and her deputy, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, saw the release of 14 reports including one on Magashule and one on UDM leader Bantu Holomisa and the PIC.

Mkhwebane said the first complaint against Magashule related to the involvement of the office of the premier in the funeral arrangements of the late health MEC Fundiswa Ngubentombi, while the second concerned a forensic report in connection with the appointment of Letlaka Communications by the office of the premier.

“My investigation revealed that the former premier did not blatantly mislead the legislature in his reply concerning the involvement of his office in the funeral arrangements as well as the commitment by his office to ensure that the provincial government refunds the municipality. The allegation is unsubstantiated,” Mkhwebane said.

On the second complaint, she found that Magashule did not mislead the provincial legislature by denying any knowledge of a report by JGL Forensic Services as well as the recommendation of the minister of finance.

Gcaleka revealed that the office of the public protector received 1,602 Covid-19 related complaints, the bulk of which related to service delivery failures.

“Eight of the total are good governance matters and relate to procurement irregularities with financial implications for the public purse, estimated at R4bn.

“The lion’s share of the service delivery related matters in respect of Covid-19 have to do with the R350-a-month special social relief of distress grant. All these service delivery and good governance investigations are in progress,” Gcaleka said.

She said the public protector's office had embarked on an investigation into the state of the country’s health care system as well as conditions in basic education.

“The investigation was precipitated by the public outcry and media reports as a result of the pandemic.”

Gcaleka said visits to hospitals and schools were to establish how they were coping with the devastation brought about by Covid-19 and whether they rendered services effectively and efficiently.

She said they had thus far visited facilities in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

In the next week they will be in KwaZulu-Natal.

She said her office had consulted with stakeholders including the ministers of health and basic education, SA Human Rights Commission and the office of health standards compliance in respect of their findings and observations where hospitals were  concerned.

“Reports for each province are being prepared and the MECs in the provinces we have already visited have been or are being requested to comment on the draft reports. Once finalised, these reports will be shared with the minister of health, the MECs of health, the minister of finance and the president,” she said.


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