The Treasury’s Chief Procurement Office has reported to parliament that government departments and state-owned companies had requested deviations from normal procurement processes amounting to more than R37-billion in the 2016/2017 financial year.
The report presented by acting Chief Procurement Officer Willie Mathebula has also shown that power utility Eskom accounted for the largest chunk of requests to depart from regular procurement processes‚ accounting for deviations to the tune of R31.3-billion.
He said departments and SOEs often asked to depart from normal procurement processes such as open tendering at the last minute due to poor planning‚ lack of skills and capacity and weak contract management among other reasons.
Others in the Treasury’s top 10 public entities with deviations with the biggest monetary value include the SA Revenue Service‚ the department of rural development‚ SA Social Security Agency
But MPs from both the governing ANC and the opposition parties were not impressed when Mathebula failed to provide the finer details of the deviation requests‚ saying his report was not entirely helpful as it did not indicate whether fraud and corruption were at the heart of the deviation from normal procurement prescripts.
“It would have been useful to be given the timeframes‚ the reasons for deviations…we have no sense whether these deviations were justifiable‚ whether they were approved or not‚ on what basis were they approved…it’s a very scanty presentations‚” said ANC MP Derek Hanekom.
Hanekom suggested that corrupt officials often used deviation requests when they wanted to benefit or award government contracts to businessmen closely connected to them.
“Some these are not just simple deviations but an abuse of the system and corruption‚” he said.
Mathebula angered DA MP David Maynier when he said “it would have been a mammoth task” for his office to provide a much more detailed report on the deviations.
“It’s quite a lot of information. For us to have brought stacks of information‚ individual transactions‚ would have been a mammoth task‚” said Mathebula.
Maynier dismissed Mathebula’s assertion as “nonsense”.
Mathebula‚ who was appointed to act as the CPO last month‚ said they were planning to establish a “cross-functional internal committee” comprising of top managers in the public service to improve the management of deviation requests.
“Personally I would feel very uncomfortable to deal with a deviation request of R1-billion on my own‚” he said.
Mathebula also denied weekend media reports that he was part of group of Treasury officials who were plotting with finance minister Malusi Gigaba to weaken the critical OCPO‚ which has been tasked with overseeing and rooting out corruption in government tenders.
Source: TMG Digital.