The Department of International Relations (Dirco) has confirmed that its Director-General Kgabo Mahoai has been placed on a precautionary suspension effective from February 11th.
The decision by Minister Naledi Pandor relates to a Parliamentary oversight report which flagged an irregular expenditure of over R100 million as it related to the procurement of offices for the country’s UN Mission to the United Nations and other diplomatic offices in New York.
The report states that a deposit to the tune of R118 million was paid for a vacant parcel of land in New York upon which to house the South African diplomatic missions in the city.
But upon inspection by a delegation from the Portfolio Committee on International Relations, an unsuitable, dilapidated building at the location was discovered that raised concerns about the discrepancies in the procurement process.
The report criticises former Ambassador Jerry Matjila for being absent during the portfolio committee’s oversight visit without apology and recommends consequence management against him for this and his role in the project.
The amount of R118 million was noted to have been paid on the basis of a misrepresentation to the Department that a real estate agent had bought land to build a suitable and sustainable office building.
The 2020 report calls for a full investigation – unclear at which stage the process has now reached within the department despite the current DG’s suspension.