Home News Court grants urgent interdict to prevent enforcing PP recommendations against MEC Lekwene

Court grants urgent interdict to prevent enforcing PP recommendations against MEC Lekwene

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The Northern Cape High Court on Friday granted an urgent interim interdict to prevent enforcing the recommendations of a Public Protector’s report into allegations of improper conduct and maladministration that were made against the former MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Maruping Lekwene.

Maruping Lekwene. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE NORTHERN Cape High Court on Friday granted an urgent interim interdict to prevent enforcing the recommendations of a Public Protector’s report into allegations of improper conduct and maladministration that were made against the former MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Maruping Lekwene.

Lekwene is currently employed as the MEC for the Northern Cape Department of Health.

An application to review the findings of the report will be heard in the Northern Cape High Court on September 3.

The Public Protector, Busiswe Mkhwebane, found that the Premier should take disciplinary steps against Lekwene for improper conduct relating to the irregular secondment and subsequent appointment of the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Northern Cape Gambling Board Vincent Mothibi.

She ruled that the MEC violated the executive ethics code “as it was made in violation of the law, and was therefore not made in good faith, in the best interest of good governance and consistent with the integrity of his office as MEC”.

It was pointed out that only the gambling board had the authority to appoint the CEO.

She instructed the premier to implement remedial action within 30 days after her report was released on June 3, to submit a report to the Northern Cape provincial legislature on the action taken.

Mkhwebane pointed out that Mothibi did not have the requisite qualifications, or meet the job criteria while no recruitment processes were followed.

It was indicated that Mothibi only possessed a national diploma in personnel management instead of a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, Law or Public Administration as required.

She also ordered that Mothibi’s appointment be placed under judicial review and that his appointment be declared invalid within the next 60 days.

Mothibi was appointed to serve as CEO for 12 months from January 1 2020 until December 31, while the current MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Abraham Vosloo extended his fixed term contract for three years until March 2021 or until the position was filled.

Mkhwebane stated that there was no prior agreement between the department and the gambling board, as was required to approve the secondment.

“The MEC did not have the authority in terms of the Public Service Regulations to second Mothibi for a period of longer than 12 months.

“The MEC’s decision to second Mothibi to act as the CEO of the Gambling Board for a period of three years was not in accordance with Regulation 62 of the Public Service Regulations, 2016. It was therefore improper and constitutes maladministration.”

Legal representative for Lekwene, Advocate Johan van Niekerk indicated to the court that the public protector’s report made “sweeping findings” against the integrity of his client.

He stated that the findings were published without his client’s right to be heard where the only disciplinary action “implied his dismissal as MEC”.