Tutu gets the boot

Board sus­pends ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor in drama over con­flict of in­ter­est since her mar­riage to a pro­fes­sor

CityPress - - News - AN­DISIWE MAKINANA an­disiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Rev­erend Canon Mpho Tutu has been sus­pended as the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of her par­ents’ legacy foun­da­tion, only weeks af­ter ty­ing the knot. The board of the Des­mond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foun­da­tion met last week and unan­i­mously, and qui­etly, de­cided to sus­pend Mpho Tutu. It had threat­ened to re­sign en masse if ac­tion was not taken to ame­lio­rate the im­pli­ca­tions of Tutu’s mar­riage to a pro­fes­sor with links to her par­ents’ foun­da­tion.

The board cited fi­nance and gov­er­nance con­cerns aris­ing from a pos­si­ble con­flict of in­ter­est with her part­ner, Pro­fes­sor Marce­line van Furth, in­sid­ers say.

Van Furth is the Des­mond Tutu Chair of Medicine at Vrije Univer­siteit in Nether­lands.

It has been work­ing with the Des­mond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foun­da­tion on spe­cial projects.

Don Mac­Robert, a spokesper­son for the foun­da­tion, said in a state­ment that, fol­low­ing a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion, “the board of the foun­da­tion has asked Rev­erend Canon Mpho Tutu to step aside while a process is un­der­taken to tighten ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures and prac­tices, and mit­i­gate [the] po­ten­tial for per­ceived con­flicts of in­ter­ests be­tween the foun­da­tion and its part­ners”.

“The out­comes of the process will de­ter­mine the fu­ture,” it added.

In­sid­ers told City Press the rev­erend was not be­lieved to have mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds from the foun­da­tion.

How­ever, her gen­eral con­duct as the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the foun­da­tion had con­cerned the board. A num­ber of board mem­bers have re­signed from the foun­da­tion fol­low­ing clashes with her.

Two in­sid­ers told City Press that board mem­bers had been up in arms in De­cem­ber. They said their un­hap­pi­ness stemmed from the im­pli­ca­tions of the rev­erend and Van Furth’s mar­riage in De­cem­ber in Am­s­ter­dam.

Van Furth is be­lieved to have played a key role in se­cur­ing a €2 mil­lion (R35.8 mil­lion at the cur­rent ex­change rate) do­na­tion to the foun­da­tion from a Dutch lot­tery three years ago.

City Press has seen a pic­ture of Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu, his daugh­ter and Van Furth taken in Fe­bru­ary 2013 when the Dutch Post­code Lot­tery do­nated the €2 mil­lion to the foun­da­tion. €1.5 mil­lion of that money was for a spe­cial pro­ject jointly de­signed by the Vrije Univer­siteit Med­i­cal Cen­tre and the Des­mond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foun­da­tion. The foun­da­tion was the lead part­ner. In­sid­ers con­firmed the board was con­cerned about pos­si­ble con­flicts of in­ter­est aris­ing from the women’s union, but of­fered no ex­am­ples of what form th­ese might take.

“The board would have re­signed en bloc had this [sus­pen­sion] not hap­pened,” said a source.

The board in­cludes the Tutu fam­ily as well as non­fam­ily mem­bers.

The rev­erend ex­plained last month that the lot­tery event had pre­dated her fall­ing in love with Van Furth by a few months.

Last month she told City Press that the nec­es­sary checks and bal­ances were in place to guard against the po­ten­tial for con­flicts of in­ter­est. She said Van Furth was ap­pointed to the Des­mond Tutu Chair in 2009 by an ex­ter­nal com­mit­tee in terms of the univer­sity’s poli­cies and pro­cesses.

“We met more than two years later, to­wards the end of 2011,” she said. Her com­ment to City Press this week was: “What be­gan with is­sues within the fam­ily was placed be­fore the board. The board ini­ti­ated a process it must com­plete. “The fam­ily is work­ing to re­solve its is­sues.” The foun­da­tion did not re­spond to spe­cific ques­tions from City Press on what ex­actly had led to Tutu’s sus­pen­sion.

Mpho’s par­ents are be­lieved to have sup­ported the board’s de­ci­sion to sus­pend her.

PHO­TOS: LU­LAMA ZEN­ZILE

WE WILL BRING THE FIGHT TO YOU Af­ter Cape Town ap­proved two marches on the

day of the state of the na­tion ad­dress on Thurs­day, the po­lice showed up in force and were de­ter­mined to pre­vent any break­through to the par­lia­men­tary precinct. The po­lice fired

stun grenades to dis­perse mem­bers of the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers, which didn’t have

per­mis­sion to demon­strate. The clashes re­in­forced the no­tion that we have de­scended into a po­lice state, ruled by an iron fist and a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy to­wards civil dis­obe­di­ence

SUS­PENDED Rev­erend Canon Mpho Tutu

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