DA to submit PAIA request for contracts related to DIRCO’s multi-million New York property

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will submit a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to access all relevant documents related to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s (DIRCO) controversial R118 million New York Pilot Project in order to ascertain all details, including everyone involved in the procurement and approval of the property.

On Wednesday morning the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation unanimously decided to distance itself from the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor’s unilateral decision to suspend the Director-General (DG) of DIRCO Kgabo Mahoai. This was done in absence of the Minister who did not deign to appear before the committee after she was summoned to explain her decision, which members of the committee had to read about in the media.

The Minister needs to explain why she used the DG as a lone scapegoat and chose to ignore the involvement of other senior officials in the procurement process of the New York Pilot Project. Why were Ambassador Jerry Matjila, the then DG of DIRCO and the current DIRCO CFO, Caphais Ramashaeo, not suspended as well?

We are also concerned by the fact that there has been no Executive accountability, particularly against Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the DIRCO Minister at the time.

Minister Pandor seems to lack the political will to root out corruption in her Department. She has been vague in her response to the 13 recommendations the committee made to Parliament, which was ultimately adopted.

And there is little transparency regarding her role in the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of the taxpayers’ money which was used to purchase a run down, dilapidated, burnt building. The procurement of the R118 million dilapidated building ultimately happened under the Minister’s watch and it is unfathomable that she would have no input in such a massive purchase for her Department.

This matter has become an international embarrassment to South Africa and the Minister must be held accountable for her failure to address corruption in her Department.