MEC Eric Kholwane must come clean on Jacques Modipane’s Golden Handshake

By Anthony Benadie MPL, Spokesperson on Finance, Economic Development & Tourism:

The Democratic Alliance calls on Mpumalanga’s MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism, Eric Kholwane to come clean on reports that Jacques Modipane was given a R5 million golden handshake to quit as CEO of MTPA.

Reports started circulating last week that the Board of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) and Modipane, who still had three years left on his contract as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the parastatal, had reached a R5 million out of court settlement for him to leave quietly following his suspension in December last year.

According to a reply to DA parliamentary questions, Modipane’s suspension was based on the following allegations:

–      Absence without permission or explanations.

–      Rhino Horn theft: failure to follow adequate procedures following the theft of 112 rhino horns from the MTPA safe in April 2014.

–      Irregular expenditure: lack of controls to manage the agency’s expenditure.

–      Failure to carry out reasonable instructions of the MTPA Board.

Immediately after he was suspended, Modipane claimed that his suspension was politically motivated, but he could not say why and who was behind it.

The DA finds the reports of the R5 million Golden Handshake highly suspect. If indeed Modipane was being investigated for the above allegations, where is the report proving his involvement, and why has the department decided to settle out of court with a Golden Handshake of such an amount?. Not unless Modipane was right to say the allegations against him and the subsequent suspension were politically motivated.

The DA will engage the office of MEC Kholwane and ask him to present legislature with the investigation report into the allegations against Modipane, and disclose how much was Modipane given to leave MTPA.

The DA still believes that sacking Modipane was a huge mistake as he worked tirelessly to turn the entity around and bring stability and progress to the MTPA after years of factionalism and internal instability.

It appears that the sacking of Modipane stems from differences surrounding the explicit instruction issued by MEC Kholwane, to re-instate the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of MTPA Edward Thwala, and that he be paid all monies and benefits due to him since the termination of his employment in April 2014.

The engagement with the office of MEC Kholwane will guide the DA in deciding whether or not to ask the Auditor General to investigate this alleged Golden Handshake. If Modipane did indeed receive a Golden Handshake, this will be the 2nd CEO of a Mpumalanga Economic Development parastatal to receive a massive pay-out since Kholwane took office. State coffers should never be used to settle political scores.