Andries Letswalo loses fight to get back CFO job

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DROWNING: Former agriculture department CFO Andries Letswalo is taking his fight to the Labour Court in Johannesburg. PICTURE BY Facebook

He was fired after spreading lies about Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane and departmental head Cain Chunda. They are suing him R2-million each for defamation.


The dismissed CFO of the Mpumalanga department of agriculture, Andries Letswalo, won’t get his job back after recently losing a fight with the Public Service Sector Bargaining Council for his re-instatement.

He now feels the Bargaining Council was unfair in its decisions and is taking the fight to the Labour Court in Braamfontein.

Letswalo wants the Labour Court to look at the decision of the Bargaining Council as “irregular” and “improper” and then set it aside.

ALSO SEE: R55-million stolen from Mpumalanga agriculture department

This will then pave the way for him to return to his former job of Chief Financial Officer.

He told the Bargaining Council he earned R1.2-million yearly as the department of agriculture’s CFO and that when he was fired on 20 January 2022 the department gave him no opportunity to appear before a disciplinary committee.

Only former chief director Israel Silinda, with whom Letswalo was dismissed, was afforded the opportunity to answer to allegations in a disciplinary hearing.

ALSO SEE: Mpumalanga investigates more senior agriculture officials

The department said the reason for not affording Letswalo the chance to a disciplinary hearing was because he was actually caught in the act.

They say the misconduct is so serious like a supermarket worker being caught stealing red-handed by the boss.

Letswalo in December 2019 drafted a document, titled ‘Agric loot’, and made it look like it was written by an anonymous departmental insider.

It claimed that the agriculture department’s head, Cain Chunda had squandered over R90-million in the Greening Badplaas project when in actual truth only R34-million had been spent by the department on the same project.

It also claimed that Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane sent people around to collect kickbacks from tenderprenuers.

Both Chunda and Mtshweni-Tsipane are in court suing him R2-million each for defamation…

After the ‘Agric loot’ document began making rounds on social media, the department roped in cyber experts who found that Letswalo drafted the document from his laptop and used maletswalo@mpg.gov.za and letswaloma@gmail.com to spread it to people.

Its purpose was to tarnish the names of Mtshweni-Tsipane and Chunda as part of ANC factional fights where rivals are wrangling over access to government positions.

The department said the allegations that Chunda squandered over R90-million in the Greening Badplaas project were malicious in that first of all the companies appointed in the project were appointed by Letswalo, long before Chunda was appointed the HOD in June 2021 and the R34-million – not R90-million – that had already been paid to the contractors was actually paid by Letswalo in his capacity as the CFO of the department.

The Bargaining Council found that it was unfair of the department to not give Letswalo the chance to a disciplinary hearing but said the reasons that were used in firing him were fair.

It upheld the department’s decision to sack him but ordered that the department pays him R600 000, which is the 6-month period he spent seeking relief at the Bargaining Council since he never got a departmental hearing.

Letswalo flatly denied he ever created the ‘Agric loot’ document despite cyber experts finding that he was actually the one who drafted and spread it using maletswalo@mpg.gov.za and letswaloma@gmail.com.

He said the department failed to consider that emails are hacked or cloned.

In another argument, Letswalo said even if he did draft and spread the ‘Agric loot’ document but dismissing him was unfair because he was reporting corruption and that the department should have treated him as a “whistleblower”.

But the department says they don’t have a problem with any of their employees reporting corruption as long as that information is correct and is not meant to unjustly assassinate the character of other employees.

For example in the ‘Agric loot’ document, Letswalo – quite aware – lied that R90-million had been squandered by the HOD. He knew that, as the CFO responsible for the department’s financial administrations, only R34-million had been spent to that date.

The department said if Letswalo was serious about reporting or fighting corruption he would have reported a R1.2-million that was deposited into the personal bank account of his businessman friend instead of being deposited into government revenue account after the sale of cattle belonging to the department in Gert Sibande.

(edited by MLM)
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