Address by North West MEC for Public Works, Roads and Transport, Mahlakeng Mahlakeng, during a media conference to announce the sanction against suspended Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Kwekwu Odame-Takyi found guilty of misconduct
13 Sep 2010
Honourable Premier: Maureen Modiselle
Ladies and gentlemen
Yes indeed, I have fired Mr Kwekwu Odame-Takyi, the suspended chief financial officer, and chairperson of the Bids Adjudication Committee of the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport who was found guilty on 12 of the 15 charges of misconduct.
The decision to dismiss him, which I have accepted and agreed to in full, is best summarised in a nine page report I received over the weekend from the chairperson of the disciplinary committee, who is also a Senior Counsel (SC), Advocate Dabi Kumalo.
Having studied the evidence before him against Mr Odame-Takyi, including mitigating circumstances, Advocate Kumalo (SC) came to the conclusion that:
"It is my view, based on the evidence given by witnesses on behalf of the employer that the charges on which Mr Odame-Takyi has been found guilty of, are so serious that only a dismissal sanction would be appropriate in each charge".
He further said: "I have considered the mitigating circumstances submitted on behalf of Mr Odame-Takyi, and I do not consider them to be of such weight as to support a lesser sanction than dismissal.
"The MEC for the department must expect, and trust that the CFO will look after the financial interest of the department in accordance with the provision of the Public Service Act, Public Finance Management Act, Treasury Regulations and the department's supply chain management policy. In the circumstances, I recommend that the employee, which Mr Odame Takyi, should be dismissed for misconduct as set out in charges: one; two; three; four; seven; eight; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14 and 15".
I will not give a blow by blow account of the charges as copies of the charge sheet have been made available to you in the media kits for easy reference.
When we made an announcement of the guilty verdict of Mr Odame Takyi in this room, at approximately the same time on Wednesday last week, little did we expect that in less than a week, the sanction will be ready.
You were indeed correct in your immediate response, that the speed, at which these particular cases against senior officials were concluded, is unprecedented in this province.
There is always the first time, because we knew as government, it was just a matter of time and patience, to keep on drilling down until we find the correct answers to the right question like: What happened to the multi-million rands of tax payers, which were allocated to my department for the road capital projects and what are we doing about it?
We owe the people of the North West, and indeed of the republic answers, for they have the right to know and they want to us identifying and dealing with the culprits accordingly.
As an elected servant of the people of this country, tasked with a monumental task of ensuring that service delivery to our people takes priority over everything we do. I feel vindicated, for the simple reason that: many thought this was just a laughable exercise, viewed and interpreted our good intentions as another ploy to waste tax payers' monies. Now we know the truth, and the truth has conquered all.
However, forgiving as I always am, I cannot hide my anger at the betrayal displayed towards me, the provincial government and the people of this province, by these culprits who occupied very senior positions in my department.
I expected them to be the pillars of support and to lead by example, more so that some of us had just taken up office when we raised the red flag after the regime change.
In my view, the investigations and the appropriate action taken against the culprits to date, was just a skirmish. The real war is yet to begin, but we are combat ready to come out with guns blazing, to recoup from contractors and individuals all the millions of rands paid to them erroneously, falsely, fraudulently and unlawfully.
Brace yourselves for an uphill battle, a battle we have to win as a collective, for the sake of our democracy and more especially the people of the North West.
To this end, I have scheduled a meeting with our legal advisers before the end of the week to map the way forward.
I find it quite bizarre that, since we announced the dismissal of Mr Thebe and subsequent guilty verdict of Mr Odame Takyi last week, enquires from suspected beneficiaries of all these scandalous and illegal arrangements, hatched by the two culprits, or even more yet to be identified officials in my department, have increased.
How do they keep on insisting, including attempts by others to come through the back door to your good office, premier, claim to have a valid contract, signed by the very same people found guilty and fired for committing acts of misconduct?
I take a strong exception to anybody who mistakenly attempt to manipulate or even attempt to abuse your good office in pursuit of what could be interpreted as a selfish agenda.
To all those who think they have a case to prove against us, as a department and provincial government, let us meet in court.
For as long as I am here, I will leave no stone unturned in my quest to recover, if possible, to the last cent whatever amount was fraudulently and falsely paid to any contractors, whether big or small.
Once again, my profound appreciations to all those contractors who have cooperated and supported us to date. The information you have volunteered has assisted us and we will forever count on you for your honesty and contribution to achieve a transparent government.
To the premier, I thank you for your unwavering support through this difficult phase and would continue to count on you as we move forward.
I thank you for your time.
List of charges against Kwekwu Odame-Takyi
First charge alleges that Mr Odame-Takyi committed misconduct in his capacity as the CFO of the department in that he allowed payment of monies to contractors who had been improperly appointed contrary to the department's supply chain management policy and caused amounts in excess of R30 million to be paid to emergency contracts when he was aware of the department's cap of R30 million.
Second charge related to payments of alleged inflated amounts for the purchase of Jet Patcher machines and Bitumen Emulsion. On 10 November 2008 the Chief Director of Roads Management, Mr E Thebe had written a memorandum to the Deputy Director-General, Department of Transport, Roads and Community Safety, recommending that the DPC approve the purchase of 100 210 litres of Bitumen Emulsion Cationic 65 for the Jet Patchers from Raliform Investment Holdings for an amount of R282 013,20 including value added tax (VAT).
Setting out the reasons for the purchase and these were: the manufacturer had specified that it is the only product to be used for the Jet Patchers.
"Other Bitumen Emulsion products will not only affect the warranty but will also not produce the correct mix to be used for pothole patching.
"The Cationic 65 is only available through the supplier of the Jet Patcher, namely Raliform Investment Holding".
The chairperson of the DPC, the CFO, had signed his approval of the above recommendation. Evidence was led that indeed the Jet Patcher machines and Bitumen Emulsion products were purchased at a higher price than the price that would have been paid if the contract had gone out to open tender.
Third charge alleges that the CFO had contravened section 38(1)(a)(i), alternatively, section 45 of the Public Finance Management Act, 1 of 1999 in that he failed to ensure that the department has and maintains effective, efficient and transparent systems of financial and risk management and internal control of the department in that he committed the department to an amount of R3 221 000 being the actual payments made in respect of the call centre and asset register, when that amount of money had not been planned or budgeted for.
On 8 October 2007 the Chief Director of Roads Management submitted a memorandum to the DPC requesting approval to appoint Jabula Project to develop a departmental road infrastructure asset register and for setting up and running of a call centre. The total fee related to this project was indicated as R14 300 000.
Fourth count relates to the payment of R673 540 854,96 in respect of 19 contracts awarded to contractors without an open tender process.
Fifth charge: in relation to this charge, there was no evidence led on behalf of the prosecution that two contracts were awarded to Moseme Constructions for R78 000 000 and R73 000 000. Nor was there any convincing evidence that additional work was awarded as a variation order for contracts NWTR 54/07-P34-2 for the rehabilitation of Koster-Lichtenburg Road. I therefore find Mr Odame-Takyi not guilty of this charge.
Sixth charge in the amended charge sheet, this is a repetition of the allegations in the fourth charge. I have already found Mr Odame-Takyi guilty as charged in the fourth charge. It is not competent of the prosecution to charge him twice with essentially the same offence. I therefore find him not guilty on the sixth charge.
Seventh charge: in the amended charge sheet, seventh charge reads that Mr Odame-Takyi contravened section 38(1)(c)(ii), alternatively, section 45 of the PFMA 1 of 1999 in that he failed to take effective and appropriate steps to prevent unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure and losses resulting in payments made to contractors listed in annexure "A", which ought not to have been made to them.
Eighth charge: in charge Mr Odame-Takyi was charged with contravening section 38(1)(f), alternatively section 45 of the PFMA in that he failed to settle all contractual obligations of the Department and to pay all monies owing within the prescribed or agreed period thereby causing the Department financial loss and prejudice when he failed to settle departmental debts or obligations from the financial year 2008/09, totalling R129 530 917 which were ultimately paid from the current year's construction budget.
10th charge: in the amended charge sheet there was no ninth charge. Charge 10 charged Mr Odame-Takyi with contravention of section 39(1)(b), alternatively section 45 of the PFMA 1 of 1999.
11th charge: in this charge, Mr Odame-Takyi is charged with contravention of section 39(2(a), alternatively, section 45 of the PFMA in that he failed to take effective appropriate steps to prevent any over spending of the vote of the department or the main division within the vote when he caused consultants to be paid to do scoping reports, detailed designs, tender documentation and supervision of projects that were not listed in the IPMP.
As a result 97,8 percent of the budget was already spent on 31 August 2009 as per expenditure report for period ending August 2009.
12th and 13th charges: the allegations in these two charges are that the CFO contravened section 39(2)(b)(iii), alternatively, section 45 of the PFMA when he caused 97,8 percent of the budget of the department to be spent within five months or by 31 August 2009 (charge 12); and he contravened section 40(1)(a), alternatively, section 45 of the PFMA in that he failed to keep full and proper records of the financial affairs of the department (charge 13).
14th charge: the CFO is charged with contravention of section 41, alternatively, section 45 of the PFMA in that he failed to submit to the relevant Treasury or the Auditor-General, such information, returns, documents, explanations and motivations as may be prescribed or the Auditor-General may require.
15th charge: the CFO is charged with contravention of regulation 8.1.1, alternatively, section 45 of the PFMA in that he failed to ensure that internal procedures and internal control measures are in place for payment, approval and processing. These internal controls were intended to provide reasonable assurance that all expenditure is necessary, appropriate, paid promptly and is adequately recorded and reported. The aforesaid had the resultant outcome that the invoices from the financial year 2008/09 (previous financial year) totalling R129 530 917,10 were paid from the current year's construction budget.
Issued by: North West Public Works, Roads and Transport
13 Sep 2010
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