South Africa’s foreign affairs department – DIRCO – has terminated the employment of its Chief Financial Officer, Caiphys Ramashau, who was embroiled in the controversial (and hugely wasteful) R118-million New York Pilot project.
The axing comes at the end of a disciplinary case which had been instituted against Ramashau. The ex-CFO faced charges related to “irregular expenditure” incurred by the department on an unsuccessful project in the USA to purchase a prized piece of land in New York for the R118-million.
The land was intended to accommodate SA’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, and the New York Consulate.
The department’s former Director-General Kgabo Mahoai – who faced similar charges – was already fired in September. (Ambassador Nonceba Losi has since been appointed as the Acting Director-General.)
The DA said today that it welcomes the dismissal of Ramashua over his alleged role in the “fruitless” project, but added, in a statement on Tuesday: “We still believe that there are more senior officials and politicians who are closely connected to the political elite in the ANC, who also need to face the chop.”
Mergan Chetty – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation – said Ramashua had believed DIRCO was his “own fiefdom and that he was untouchable”.
Chetty claims that the CFO’s dismissal only came about because the DA wouldn’t let up in insisting that Mahoai’s firing “was merely a smokescreen to protect other senior officials and politicians who were entangled in this corrupt deal”.
Chetty says: “The department had paid R118 million to the Simeke Group/JV Regiments Capital joint venture, who incidentally did not tender for the project. Minister Naledi Pandor had been very reluctant to take the Portfolio Committee into her confidence regarding the issues surrounding the investigations around the corrupt officials and politicians. Yet it was the oversight visit to New York, by MPs that resulted in exposing the R118 million corruption scandal.
“The DA still demands in the wake of the CFO’s dismissal that President Cyril Ramaphosa recalls and suspend both Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane — under whose watch this New York Pilot Project were initiated and for failing to exercise her executive oversight — and Ambassador Jerry Matjila, who was the Director General during that period. We will write to the President in this regard,” says Chetty.