SETA BOARD TO PROBE CEO
A CEO of a sector education and training authority (Seta) is under investigation for allegedly failing to declare his interests in a company that made millions from the Seta he runs.
Oupa Mopaki, CEO of the Media, Information and Communication Technologies (MICT) Seta, has allegedly been working with Tebogo Mashigwane – director of Network Infraco – to milk the Seta of millions of rands.
Sources claim an email with his cellphone number has emerged linking him to the company. It has become key evidence in an investigation into allegations of a conflict of interest on Mopaki’s part.
Sources told City Press that Network Infraco should not have received payment directly from the Seta because it was a training services provider, not an employer. The company was allegedly paid by the Seta for an unusually high number of students and interns it claims to have trained.
According to regulations, employers claim directly from the Seta after providing numbers; the Seta then pays the companies to cover the costs of transporting students and interns to training sites.
The investigation will also seek to clarify why Mashigwane’s name allegedly appeared in contracts between the Seta and two other companies, Lylacorp and Bandwidth, which also made millions of rands from the Seta. The probe will also help determine Mopaki’s alleged involvement, if any, in the partnership.
MICT Seta board secretary Tania Vorster said the board took the matter seriously and would appoint an independent investigator to lead the probe.
Mopaki’s details were also allegedly displayed on the website of Transhub – an online transport directory that offers transport-related services to brokers and individuals – as a “contact person” for Network Infraco. Mopaki confirmed to City Press the authenticity of the email bearing his name in association with Network Infraco. However, he said his details could have been included in the email before he declined a job offer from the company when his contract came to an end at the Seta in March 2012. The Seta only confirmed in May that year that his contract would be extended, he said.
During the period between March and May 2012 he contacted his recruitment agent concerning his availability in the job market, Mopaki said. The agent referred him to Network Infraco.
“They were looking for a group HR executive and I applied for the job at a company called Network Infraco. I was interviewed and offered the job of group executive of the company and its channel or portfolio companies including Lylacorp, Bandwidth and four others.
“Within three weeks of accepting the offer, my contract was renewed by the Seta and I declined the offer,” Mopaki explained.
Documents in possession of City Press indicate that Network Infraco received R32.9 million from the Seta in 2014-15; and R29.2 million in 2016/17.
According to the documents, the allocations were meant for a skills development programme or internships in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West.
The number of students ranged from 40 to 150 in each programme, figures that were noticeably higher than the average submitted by other companies.
Lylacorp was paid R17.6 million in 2013/14, R21.2 million in 2014/15, and R17 million in 2016/17. Bandwidth received R15.9 million in 2014/15 and R9.6 million in 2016/17.
Mopaki acknowledged that Seta grant application committees allocate funds to employers and not service providers. He insisted that these companies were not service providers since a committee had confirmed that they qualified to access Seta grants.
“I do not see how I am conflicted ... I do not participate in the awarding of Seta grants and I am not a member of any grant committee. I only sign service level agreements on the recommendation of said committees,” he said.
Mopaki also denied the alleged links to Mashigwane. When contacted for comment, Mashigwane also denied his association with Mopaki. He confirmed that he was a director of the three companies.
“Kindly make me aware of a law that says I cannot be a director in three companies.
“According to MICT Seta requirements, all three companies are in compliance and they duly pay levies to the SA Revenue Service.”