Business

‘Nasty’ business at FFC

2019-03-12 12:32

A former Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) employee has called for the organisation to publicly release a controversial forensic report.

Hammed Amusa, who served as a researcher at the organisation for more than a decade before resigning in December, wrote a scathing email and sent it to FFC chairperson Daniel Plaatjies, FFC CEO Kay Brown and the rest of the entity’s commissioners.

The FFC, a chapter 13 institution, is mandated to make recommendations and provide advice to organs of state in the national, provincial and local spheres of government.

In the email, Amusa requested that the commission release the forensic report to the public to show that he is not implicated in any wrongdoing.

This follows comments by Plaatjies to City Press, published in an article last month, that almost all FFC staff benefited from irregular remuneration practices related to salaries and bonuses.

Amusa said this had damaged his professional and personal standing.

In a recent article in City Press, Plaatjies claimed that some of the staff who had resigned were doing so to avoid disciplinary action.

He had allegedly used the report to blackmail staff, claiming they were at his mercy.

Amusa wrote in the email, which City Press has seen: “My decision to consider the possibility of a legal recourse is not taken lightly.

“As stated above, I have accorded the institution a high degree of professional respect and have not in any way, whether in the course of discharging my professional duties or conduct in my personal capacity, engaged in actions that harmed the commission’s reputation.

“The chairperson’s statements and its impact on my welfare, have not accorded me the same level of respect.”

Amusa wanted the organisation to ascertain the extent of the liability that the FFC and Plaatjies should face for failing to state facts “and for damages incurred in directly and indirectly defaming my personal and professional integrity as well as causing suffering to my family, and a determination on how best the commission can address damages caused to my personal and professional integrity”.

Amusa declined to comment on the matter when approached by City Press but, according to a highly placed source within the FFC, the issue had caused discontent among some of the commissioners, as Plaatjies had not consulted them prior to making the controversial statements.

ALLEGED SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The organisation had apparently not acted against one of its senior officials after he allegedly sexually harassed a cleaner and a complaint was laid against him.

Instead, according to a source who is also a commissioner of the organisation, the junior employee was pressured by a lawyer brought in by Treasury to withdraw the complaint, accusing her of fabricating the serious allegation.

“This sexual harassment is now getting nasty. And we don’t even know how to help the poor cleaner,” said the source.

FFC’s Brown said the organisation would not risk being taken to court by divulging private information.

“The FFC cannot risk litigation by divulging the private information of past or present employees in the public domain.

“The FFC is not at liberty to comment on its correspondence with or internal processes being undertaken in respect of, any specific individuals and these are being dealt with in terms of the appropriate legislation and procedural rules,” she said.

Brown said the organisation dealt swiftly with all allegations of misconduct, including sexual harassment.

She, however, did not comment on any actions against the specific senior employee accused.

“All allegations of misconduct, whether of sexual harassment or any other unprofessional conduct, are dealt with decisively in terms of the FFC’s institutional policies.

“These matters are followed to their conclusion,” Brown said.

PLAATJIES AND THE SUSPICIOUS PROFESSORSHIP

Plaatjies is referred to as a “visiting professor at the University of Free State (UFS)” on three websites.

The websites are those of the FFC, the Presidential Remuneration Review Commission and the Human Sciences Research Council.

However, according to a high-placed source within the FFC, Plaatjies’ visiting professorship designation was “suspicious” given what the source had heard from staff at UFS.

City Press contacted UFS and it said that though he was associated with it, it could not confirm whether he was formally appointed as a visiting professor by them.

“[Professor] Daniel Plaatjies was associated with the university a number of years ago.

“However, I am unable to confirm the rest of the information in your enquiry,” said UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader.

Several further attempts to get her to clarify whether or not the university did or did not confer the visiting professorship title proved fruitless.

There was no response from Plaatjies to questions sent to him.

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March 17 2019