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Some MPs are corrupt, says PS

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LOBAMBA – Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development Andreas Mathabela has alleged that some Members of Parliament (MPs) were implicated in corrupt practices.

The corrupt practices, according to Mathabela, were regarding the looting of some of the government funds meant for rural empowerment. Among these are the Regional Development Fund (RDF) and the Empowerment Fund.
The PS said it was very disheartening to note that some of the very people (MPs) who are supposed to help them as a ministry to fight corruption were involved in this practice.

Mathabela made the allegation right in front of MPs, during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sitting yesterday.
Prompting the PS to make remarks was the insistence of the PAC members on Mathabela to publicly list the names of the people and companies involved in a deal where government ended up spending almost E300 000 yet the state was supposed to pay about half that amount.

While the MPs probed Mathabela to reveal the names, the PS kept using examples and did not name the people involved. He did not even name the constituency where the incident occurred. He kept pleading with the members, highlighting that he felt uncomfortable doing what he was being asked to do.

“This isn’t a unique problem. We shall continue to encounter such problems because when we attempt to address them, we are accused of hindering progress. It’s just unfortunate that some of the people we expect to help us in this regard are the very people behind these practices,” said Mathabela. Ludzeludze MP Nonhlanhla Dlamini urged the PS to name the person involved. Dlamini said there was no problem even if it was a cabinet minister or one of the current legislators but he deserved to go to jail if he committed a crime.


Nkwene MP Aaron Dladla called Dlamini to order, saying that she was pre-supposing that the person involved was an MP but she reminded the MP that it was Mathabela who had revealed that some of the legislators were involved in the corrupt practices and it was plausible that one of them was involved.
PAC Chairperson Thuli Dladla also could not understand Mathabela’s reluctance in naming the people involved since he knew the names.

The PS apologised and stated that it was unfortunate that he was being perceived as if he was trying to hide some information. He requested to privately give the information to the chairperson. Dladla gave her until this morning to do so.


Senior govt official in court for alleged fraud

LOBAMBA – A senior government official has been taken to court for his alleged involve-ment in fraud against government.

The officer is alleged to have forced his subordinate to sign documents, declaring that some equipment government had purchased has been delivered yet this was not true.

As a result, government ended up paying thousands of Emalangeni for the undelivered items.
The name of implicated officer and the exact amount involved has been withheld by Andreas Mathabela, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development, the portfolio where the incident occurred. Mathabela said the matter was pending in court.

The PS also declined to name the company involved, only preferring to reveal the director’s as a Shongwe and that the incident occurred in the Manzini South constituency.
Briefing members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the matter, Mathabela said the constituency needed a laundry machine.

All the necessary purchasing processes were followed and the constituency was granted the go-ahead to secure the machine. He said government was then informed that the machine had been delivered and, therefore, paid for the machine.
“However, we discovered that the machine was never delivered.
“When I enquired, I was told that the truck bringing the machine from South Africa to Swaziland had overturned around Carolina (South Africa).
“I personally drove to that country and interviewed the Station Commander at Carolina. He denied that such an accident had occurred,” said the PS.

Govt forced to pay twice for equipment

LOBAMBA – Government was forced to pay twice for equipment it had bought after allegedly being swindled by a middle-man.

This came about after the middle-man was given money for services rendered but did not hand over the finances to the supplier. The revelation had been made by Andreas Mathabela, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development.

He was explaining before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Parliament yesterday. Relating the incident, Mathabela said an association under a constituency, he did not name ordered a grinding machine at a cost of E141 000 through the services of a middle-man. The machine was delivered and government paid the middle-man for the machine.

Months down the line, it turned out that the middle-man had pocketed the money. Government came to learn about this after the supplier sought and was awarded a court order to repossess the machine from the constituency, in which it had been delivered. Mathabela said they also went to court to try and recoup the money but it was an exercise in futility.
The PS disclosed that the ministry was then advised by the office of the Attorney General not to contest the matter as they had no legal ground to stand on. He said, as a result, they ended up paying another E141 000 to the supplier so that the constituency could keep the machine. Mathabela said the grinding machine proved to be a profitable business for the community as they were able to purchase a similar machine within a short period from the proceeds accrued through the contested machine.
Members of the PAC expressed anger at government’s negligence and sought to know who the people involved in the deal were.
Mathabela was reluctant to name the people implicated in the deal. The PS did not even name the constituency concerned. He said even the company owned by the middle-man disappeared. Further probing by the MPs yielded no results, until the PS said he could not remember the names. He later sought permission to privately give the names to the PAC Chairperson Thuli Dladla instead of mentioning them publicly.


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