Auditor-general apologises to staffer but refuses to be intimidated

The auditor-general, Tsakane Maluleke, has apologised to Mlungisi Mabaso, a senior official in her office who accused her of corruption and misconduct.

Maluleke and the audit committee were addressing the standing committee on the auditor-general about the legal opinion pertinent to the allegations in parliament on Friday.

According to Maluleke, Mabaso, who was offended that she had held him liable for the team’s performance during a meeting in June 2022, had raised concerns about the way Maluleke conducted herself.

“He indicated that he felt aggrieved on how I had expressed myself when holding him accountable for his performance and he wanted to understand how we had got there. I offered my apology for hurting his feelings as that was certainly not my intention,” said Maluleke.

Maluleke may be apologetic about the way she handled the meeting but has told the committee that she refuses to be blackmailed and intimidated.

The committee heard that Mabaso had proposed “a mutual separation in the form of a financial settlement in exchange of not publishing the allegations”.

“I will not be blackmailed for holding an executive accountable for performing his duties. This is not how we do things,” said Maluleke.

On September 1, the office of the auditor-general announced that it had commissioned an independent review and disciplinary action against Mabaso, its chief people officer.

“Mr Mabaso accused Maluleke of being corrupt, unprofessional, and unethical as [auditor-general] currently, as well as in her previous deputy auditor-general role. The chief people officer wanted mutual separation [financial settlement] in exchange for him not going public with the allegations,” said the office of the auditor-general.

“In the interest of accountability and transparency, the [auditor general] acted swiftly and reported the chief people officer’s conduct, along with the allegations he had made against her [Maluleke] to the current [deputy auditor-general] Mr Vonani Chauke, who is also the accounting officer.

“Mr Chauke in turn instituted an independent legal review of the two matters. These were conducted by Bowmans, a law firm.”

According to the office of the auditor-general, Maluleke has been cleared of the allegations of corruption while Mabaso has been charged with gross misconduct. The governance watchdog said Mabaso’s fate will be decided at the conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings which are set to commence next week.

“The legal opinion into the legality of the transactions and decisions made by Ms Maluleke has since been concluded and has found no merit in the allegations that the [auditor general’s] conduct amounted to corruption or unprofessional, unethical behaviour.

“While the investigation into the conduct of the chief people officer has led to charges of gross misconduct against him and a disciplinary process, the chief people officer is on precautionary suspension until the completion of the disciplinary inquiry, which will be chaired by an independent senior counsel appointed for this purpose.

“He is expected to appear before a disciplinary committee before the end of September 2022.”

Also read: Official charged for accusing auditor-general of corruption

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Nompilo Zulu

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