MEGA board members hamper agency’s mandate

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The track record of senior individuals of the board of the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) is of serious concern, and the DA believes that this will seriously compromise the agency’s ability to bring much needed relief to Mpumalanga’s poor.

After the DA called for the resignation of Adv CEO Boyce Mkhize’s following reports of him accepting impermissible payments, economic development MEC Yvonne Phosa came out in his defence, and expressed her “confidence in him and his team to deliver on the mandate of MEGA”.

Misguided as the MEC’s support is, it is widely accepted that premier David Mabuza reserves and distributes positions at parastatals such as MEGA for his political and business cronies, and the DA can’t help but wonder whether the MEC carries the same support for other senior members of the board, such as:

  • Ms Norah Fakude-Nkuna, executive chairperson of Buscor, friend of President Jacob Zuma and co-financier of his controversial Nkandla homestead: Resigned as deputy head of the Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation, which is now MEGA, after a forensic audit found she had granted a loan of R2,8-million to a company of which she was a director. The loan was subsequently written off.
  • Ms Stompie Xulu. Currently serves as chairperson of the Human Resources sub-committee at MEGA and former consultant to MEGA to facilitate the drafting of new HR policies after the 2010 merger – these are yet to be finalised despite Xulu being paid. She was also implicated in a jobs-for-pals scandal for unauthorised expenditure at Johannesburg City EMS, and was the subject of a Carte Blanche exposé.
  • Deputy chairperson Davies Mculu. The premier’s personal attorney and ordinary interim board member until his permanent appointment.
  • Board chairperson Jerry Vilakazi. Rumours abound about the chairman of Netcare Limited and member of the National Planning Commission’s dictatorial management style, including allegations about him making decisions without the consent of the board, and riding roughshod over good governance practices.

Considering that  MEGA has been tasked with the mammoth task of delivering bulk water to all of Mpumalanga within the next two years at the cost of billions, it is highly concerning that a third of the board members are either connected to senior political figures or linked to financial irregularities, or both.

So too, when one considers the delays in implementing the merger and restructuring of MEGA, the turnaround strategies, and of course the 18-month wait for any concrete plan on bulk water delivery, the DA remains sceptical over the suitability of the board and the entire agency to get the job done.

The DA remains firm in our stance that from the outset, MEGA should not have been given the mandate to provide bulk water to the people of Mpumalanga, and that its involvement is more of a hindrance to delivery.

So too do we believe that only by disbanding MEGA and replacing it with a public-private partnership between the department and functioning business chambers of commerce and industry will we experience true empowerment of the poor, build the economy, create jobs and eliminate poverty.