Investigation into ICT manager in premier’s office confirmed

Eastern Cape director-general Marion Mbina-Mthembu has confirmed that one of the premier’s senior managers is under investigation, writes Asanda Nini.

Eastern Cape director-general Marion Mbina-Mthembu with premier Phumulo Masualle Picture: FILE

Information and communication technology (ICT) manager Siyabulela Jindela allegedly authorised a payment of almost R2-million for installation of computer software at premier Phumulo Masualle’s office (OTP) without such work being completed.

In a response to the Public Servants Association (PSA), Mbina-Mthembu confirmed sending an SMS to health superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe, telling him that Jindela was being investigated for payment of the R1.9-million DriveLock encryption software in 2015 before it was fully installed.

Jindela last week claimed Mbina-Mthembu had blocked his appointment as the department of health’s ICT director.

Mbina-Mthembu, who denied blocking Jindela’s appointment at the health department, told the PSA her SMS was in response to a reference check on Jindela.

“I received a reference check request from the superintendent-general at health. I responded on an SMS and informed him that in an investigation by KPMG [into various ICT projects at OTP] there were challenges around Mr Jindela,” Mbina-Mthembu told the PSA. As a result of the KPMG investigation, the OTP has launched its own internal investigation.

“A reference check is done all the time and if responding to a reference check means you are infringing on someone’s rights, then the PSA should refer this to the bargaining council because I am unwilling to issue false statements in a reference check.”

She said she had no authority to instruct an administration head to recommend to their MECs whom to employ.

“I could never retract an appointment not made by myself nor do I have authority to instruct a head of department to do so,” she said, adding she would be “glad to deal with this in the Labour Court” if need be.

Mbina-Mthembu also provided the PSA with extracts of the KPMG report which shows that Jindela authorised the R1.9-million payment to an ICT service provider despite its work not being complete.

The report says the company was paid for installing software on 450 computer devices, while in fact only 10 were installed.

However, Jindela denied paying the service provider for uncompleted work.

“The reason the account was paid in full is because DriveLock software was installed successfully on the OTP’s server for 450 computers and a testing as a pilot phase was implemented successfully on 10 laptops at the Information Technology unit,” Jindela said. “The project was completed, hence the service provider was paid in full.

“However, after the software was installed on the server by the service provider, it was the responsibility of the OTP’s technicians to roll out a full deployment of DriveLock software in all the 450 computers in the department, but Ms Mbina-Mthembu suspended all ICT projects when she started as the new DG at OTP in May 2015. It is not only DriveLock that was suspended by the DG, it is basically all the ICT projects that were approved by the former DG [Mbulelo Sogoni] to be implemented in the 2014-15 financial year.

“It is not clear to us at the information technology unit as to what motive was behind discontinuing all the ICT projects in year 2015.”

He said he was considering exploring legal avenues.

Jindela had claimed that Mbina-Mthembu had ordered the health department not to appoint him.

However, health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said: “The superintendent-general of the department has never been ordered by the DG to re-advertise the post or not to appoint this person.

“Checks were done on candidates as part of the recruitment procedure, followed by a competency assessment.

“After competency assessments, the department concluded none of the candidates were suitable and decided to re-advertise.”

Asked for confirmation of whether Mbina-Mthembu had written to the PSA or not, OTP spokeswoman Mandisa Titi yesterday refused to comment.

“The interactions between the employer and employee or their representatives are designed to be closed and confidential,” Titi said. —

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