Cape Town - Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa needed to expedite the investigation into alleged financial irregularities at the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) under CEO Sydney Maree's stewardship "so that the leadership vacuum can be filled and the uncertainty removed", says the Democratic Alliance (DA).
Maree was placed on special leave almost six months ago and his position
was advertised some three months ago.
DA MP Enyinna Nkem-Abonta said on Tuesday: "Despite this, we have heard nothing about the findings of the investigation, and Maree is now threatening to take legal action if he is replaced.
"If Maree is believed to be guilty of financial mismanagement, the appropriate disciplinary action should follow. If a crime was committed, he and/or anyone else allegedly involved should be charged.
"This scandal occurred only 17 days after the government had relaunched
the fund with an injection of R2bn of taxpayers' money, after six
years of incompetence.
"While the department of trade and industry appeared to be taking purposeful action to investigate the matter at the time, a report back on
its investigation should now be provided in the interests of transparency.
"The NEF is important for the achievement of real, broad-based empowerment in this country, and it is funded by taxpayers' money. It needs a leader
that can provide strategic direction and drive. The minister should ensure that this matter is resolved in the first quarter of 2005," said Nkem-Abonta.