Minister’s husband blamed for closure of R1-billion electronics factory - TechCentral

Minister’s husband blamed for closure of R1-billion electronics factory

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

The CEO of the R1-billion East London electronics factory that faces closure has blamed the husband of communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams for the company’s woes, according to a report published on Sunday.

The manufacturing facility, which until recently made decoders for MultiChoice Group, faces liquidation after failing to make repayments on a multimillion-rand loan to Standard Bank. Yekani Manufacturing, part of the Yekani Group, failed to reopen its doors after the December holiday break.

Now, in a sensational development, Yekani Manufacturing CEO Siphiwe Cele has alleged to the Sunday Times (paywall) that the business is going under because he refused to sell a controlling stake to Ndabeni-Abrahams’ husband, Thato Abrahams.

According to the newspaper, the Industrial Development Corporation introduced Abrahams to Cele as an investor who would buy the majority stake for R1-billion. Cele reportedly refused to sell, after which his business “ran into trouble and his pleas for government help – to save his company and the jobs of 50 employees – fell on deaf ears”, it said.

“It is disingenuous to blame the minister’s husband for the challenges faced by Yekani… The minister’s husband is at liberty to pursue business interests as long as all is above board,” the Sunday Times quoted Ndabeni-Abrahams’ spokesman, Nthabeleng Mokitimi-Dlamini, as saying.

‘Smear campaign’

It’s the second time in a week that the minister and her husband have been drawn into controversy.

A week ago, the Sunday Independent reported that Ndabeni-Abrahams allegedly used thousands of rand in taxpayers’ money to fund her wedding anniversary celebrations in the US and Switzerland by taking her husband along on the business trips without permission.

The minister described the article as a “malicious smear campaign”.

“That the trip coincided with the minister’s anniversary is of no consequence as public funds were not used or misused for this purpose,” she said.  — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media

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