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‘Lost’ PPE: Morar a ‘player and ref’

Politically connected auditor Roshan Morar supplied the KwaZulu-Natal education department with personal protective equipment worth R4-million under questionable circumstances at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Morar’s auditing firm — Morar Incorporated — was also paid R8-million by the same department to investigate the “disappearance” of millions of rands worth of PPE destined for schools in Umlazi, Pinetown and Zululand during June.

The PPE award to Amakhono is now being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which is probing dubious Covid-19 procurement around the country.

The shocking disclosure that Morar was appointed as both a supplier and an investigator by the education department was made by a whistle-blower this week. Morar Incorporated sits on the education department’s audit panel and those of several other departments and municipalities.

It has left the provincial education authority red-faced over its failure to pick up the conflict of interest and the initial appointment of Amakhono as a PPE supplier.

Amakhono was launched as a financial advisory organ for BEE companies involved in property and other transactions over R25-million, but reappeared as a PPE supplier during the Covid-19 outbreak.

It supplied the education department with 1 999 backpack sanitisers in two tranches at a combined cost of R4-million. Morar is the sole director of the company.

Morar was appointed to the board of several public entities during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure, taking flak in Parliament over an allegedly lax approach to corporate governance at the South African Road Agency Limited. While on the board of the Public Investment Corporation he presided over the loss of R9-billion through loans to the Lancaster Group while acting as a director of L101, a Lancaster subsidiary.

Provincial education department head Dr Enoch Nzama said this week that Morar, the board chairperson of the Ithala Development Finance Corporation, the provincial government’s investment wing, had not declared the conflict of interest to the department when he was appointed to investigate the disappearance of the PPE.

Nzama said that as head of the department, he did not interact with service providers but signed off on procurement after being advised by adjudication committees and the chief financial officer.

Nzama said Morar Incorporated and Amakhono had been appointed under different treasury notes, which meant there was no conflict of interest.

In June, Kwazi Mthethwa, spokesperson for education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, said that the missing PPE had been recovered but that action would be taken against those who had attempted to steal it.

“We want accountability. We will send a strong message because no one can make things disappear and then reappear at their own will while playing with state resources — so people must account,” Mthethwa said at the time.

However, according to a whistle-blower in the department, the matter ended there.

“This is wrong. How can the same person be appointed to supply PPE and then be appointed to investigate what happened to it? The PPE was found some few days after it went missing, just like that, and millions were paid out without anybody asking questions,” the whistle-blower said.
“This is like being a player and the referee in a soccer match. How can this be allowed to happen?”

This week Mthethwa referred the M&G to Nzama, saying that the head of the department was better placed to comment on the matter than the MEC.

Morar said that the audit appointment was related to the disappearance of face masks destined for schools and not the PPE he had supplied.

“Our appointment related specifically to face masks not being delivered to some schools and to investigate the integrity of the process involved to deliver these items to circuit offices, district offices and schools and to conduct a reconciliation of quantities,” he said.

Morar said a detailed report was delivered to the education department and that he had declared the fact that he was also a PPE supplier.

“There was no conflict of interest as Amakhono did not supply face masks to the DoE. Morar Incorporated would not have accepted the appointment if there was a conflict,” he said.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the probe into the Amakhono PPE award was still ongoing.  The SIU had not seen the report on the missing masks as yet.

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