Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Maladministration rampant in the CSIR but Department takes no action

(Budget vote debate in Parliament: Science and Innovation)

The Department of Science and Innovation is usually considered one of the show horses in the South African government's stables. It is almost as if people do not expect scientists to be involved in irregularities.

Over the past two months, however, the FF Plus followed up on two curious cases relating to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The first pertains to the resignation of the former executive head of the CSIR, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi. He alleged that the Director-General of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara, had put pressure on him to influence the tender for the procurement of a supercomputer.

After he refused to do so, a former employee who had been dismissed made allegations of maladministration against him.

According to media reports, the then Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor, took the allegations very seriously and subsequently launched an investigation into Sibisi. His term lapsed shortly thereafter and it was not renewed.

In a possibly unrelated development, his successor, Dr Thulani Dlamini, shifted the CSIR's focus from renewable energy to nuclear energy.

Seeing as the FF Plus was unable to glean any further information about the investigation, a question about the matter was posed to the current Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande. His response earlier this year indicated that there had been no such investigation.

Another saga involving the CSIR relates to the National Laser Centre (NLC). Since 2000, this Centre has become a world-leader in the field of 3D printing. Value addition to titanium and other metals may yet hold great benefits for South Africa.

The technical head of the NLC was removed from his office after he made allegations of poor progress and maladministration. He had been forced to retire earlier than planned. A year later, however, Fivaz and Associates conducted a forensic investigation into the allegations. Serious findings were made:

According to the report, the appointment of the head of the Centre, Mr Delon Mudaly, was irregular. A recommendation was made to restructure the Centre and he would have been redundant in the new structure. The CSIR was supposed to negotiate an alternative position for him.

It was also found that the same individual took the lead in falsifying time sheets. Using these time sheets, the CSIR was able to claim approximately R2 million from the Department of Science and Innovation without lifting a finger to do any work.

When the FF Plus asked questions about the report in November last year, the CSIR assured the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation that decisive action had been taken against all the individuals named in the report.

After Minister Nzimande made the report available in December, the FF Plus posed the same question to the CSIR.

The response was that no action could be taken against Mr Mudaly because he had not appointed himself. Furthermore, time sheets are mere internal control measures and so, falsifying them is not a serious offence.

The FF Plus is not convinced that decisive action was taken against the individuals named in the Fivaz report. In fact, it seems more likely that Parliament was misled.



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