Call to probe all E Cape gambling decisions

By GCINA NTSALUBA

THE DA has called on the economic development department to investigate and re-evaluate all decisions taken and carried out by the CEO of the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board (ECGBB).

This follows the release of a damning provisional report by public protector Thuli Madonsela into Mabutho Zwane’s appointment.

Economic development and environmental affairs MEC Mcebisi Jonas should “take urgent steps to ensure that the board reconsiders the appointment of Mr Zwane as CEO”, Madonsela’s provisional report urges.

It blames the board for failing to properly consult with the MEC on the appointment of Zwane and suggests that the failure amounts to non-compliance and maladministration.

The KwaZulu-Natal-born gambling boss’s appointment has been at the centre of a dispute within the board for more than three years.

Zwane faced a disciplinary hearing over his relationship with his then-girlfriend, Nonkululeko Ngwane, to whom he is now married.

At the time she was an employee of the department of education.

The board at the time felt that, in terms of the ECGBB Act, the fact that Zwane was involved with a government employee disqualified him for the top job and that he had failed to disclose the relationship.

The issue was also complicated by the fact that Ngwane later worked for one of the gambling board’s clients, the Vukani group, the largest operator of limited payout machines in South Africa.

The DA’s John Cupido said the report had very serious and valid findings, and therefore any decisions taken and implemented by Zwane directly in his position as the CEO should be investigated and reevaluated.

“How can we trust decisions made by someone found to be significantly less than truthful,” said Cupido.

He said Zwane’s “unlawful” time in office had come at a great cost to the taxpayer with numerous international trips.

“Someone needs to be held accountable for allowing this and money needs to be recovered,” he said.

Cupido said the report raised the same concerns that the DA had brought up, both in portfolio committee meetings and directly with the MEC.

He said Jonas should not be surprised by the findings of the public protector and should act on the findings and recommendations.

“We have already been wondering why the MEC has ‘protected’ this individual, and the question should be raised again if he still does so after being presented with hard facts and findings,” said Cupido.

Jonas’s spokesman, Sixolile Makaula, said there were no implications at this stage because the report was provisional.

The board chairman, Advocate Ncumisa Mayosi, said it would be premature to respond to provisional findings.

“We await the conclusions of the public protector’s final report in this regard,” said Mayosi.

When the Dispatch contacted Zwane yesterday, he referred questions to Jonas’s office.

The final report is expected to come out soon. — gcinan@dispatch.co.za