Disgraced public works director-general Sam Vukela not returning to the office any time soon.

Disgraced public works director-general Sam Vukela not returning to the office any time soon.

Sam Vukela
Disgraced public works director-general Sam Vukela not returning to the office any time soon.—

Disgraced public works director-general Sam Vukela’s future in government is in limbo because yet another court case has been set in motion – this time to keep him away from the office.

Following a General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council (GPSSBC) finding that Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille unfairly suspended him, Vukela was hopeful of a return to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI)’s Pretoria head office.

But the Presidency – the office that deals with career incidents of national government directors-general – has announced a move that could shatter his plans to return.

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Nonceba Mhlauli, the spokesperson for Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, said:

The Ministry in the Presidency will be approaching the Labour Court to stay the implementation of the award, pending the outcome of an application he will be launching to review and set aside the award. The reasons to review the award will be in the application which will be launched. Papers for the review are being prepared.
Vukela was suspended on 29 July 2020 after allegations surfaced of massive spending on the funerals of struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former Cabinet minister Zola Skweyiya and former chief of state protocol Billy Modise at a cost of R76 million to the government.

Vukela’s suspension raised concerns. Opposition parties questioned why the director-general was paid millions of rand annually while he remained at home. Vukela earns R1.8 million a year.

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In September of the same year, President Cyril Ramaphosa removed De Lille’s powers to discipline Vukela.

Her delegating powers were given to late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu – a function which was later handed over to Gungubele.

On several occasions Vukela claimed De Lille gave him unlawful instructions and that his refusal to execute them caused friction between the two.

He claimed De Lille put undue pressure on officials working on the Beitbridge border fence project. The Beitbridge border matter has been tainted by irregularities and dubious dealings.

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De Lille denied the Beitbridge project allegations, but admitted in court papers that she once identified a service provider (for media services), but said she gave no instruction for procurement regulations to be flouted.

Vukela is reportedly considering his legal options in response to the Presidency’s intention to approach the Labour Court.

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