The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for more high-ranking officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to be investigated and brought to book over the New York Pilot Project.
This after DIRCO Minister, Naledi Pandor, confirmed that the Department’s Director-General, Kgabo Mahoai, has been placed on precautionary suspension while investigations continue into the alleged purchase of non-existent land worth R118 million in New York, US.
It was meant to build an office building for South African diplomats.
‘The R118 million was squandered. We have no building, no vacant land, we don’t even have a title deed. The SA government has nothing to show for the R118 million spent. There were two companies involved who were responsible for the procurement of the vacant land. The money was used, but unfortunately, this is where the department has conducted the investigation, due to our insistence, that the R118 million spent had no value for money,” explains DA MP, Mergan Chetty.
The Chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has called on Minister Pandor to explain when she is going to implement the recommendations of an oversight report into the irregular expenditure.
According to an Auditor-General’s report for 2017/18, the project initiated in 2016 under then DG Jerry Matjila raised red-flags and led to an oversight visit by the portfolio committee to New York in 2019 where they discovered a dilapidated building on the site in Manhattan rather than a parcel of land.
The department essentially has ownership of neither the land nor the building despite the R118 million paid upfront.