State collection request: & # 39; Deviations from tender process a worrying norm & # 39;

Those sitting on the edge of their seats are waiting for arguments from gravitas that would show the seriousness of the country about accountability and justice, or that were only waiting for dramatic revelations in the roads used to plunder state suitcases during the second day. from the state collection survey, were disappointed.

Tuesday's discussions served mainly as a free lesson in laws regulating procurement within state entities, although there was a little insight into how state entities and government officials could have committed these laws for their own gain or those associated with them.

You could only hope that, no matter how much these lessons were so monotonous about tendering procedures, at least public officials under whose account large amounts of public funds – destined for South African citizens – would have been looted.

Treasury as head of procurement officer Willie Mathebula was the first witness at the stand in the long-awaited judicial investigation committee of the state, which finally started on Monday.

Mathebula, an experienced Treasury employee who was in charge of supervising the management of the government procurement system, revealed that 50% of the violations of tender procedures was a "deliberate act aimed at misusing the system".

He called "contract deviations" as the main road where public authorities and officials misused public procurement procedures.

"The issue of deviations and variations of tendering procedures has become a gap that has been manipulated by officers and entities to their own ends.You would find a body that starts a contract with a value of R4 million, but is eventually raised to R200 million. is this possible? "Illustrated Mathebula.

According to Mathebula, derogations from tendering procedures are permissible only "under extreme conditions", particularly during emergencies or life or death conditions in which state entities do not have the luxury to comply with procurement procedures.

"You can not show large differences between amounts that were initially projected during the tendering process of the tender compared to the final amount of the tender." Allowances for deviations were and should only be allowed in emergency situations, not due to the failure of government officials to calculate and project how much a tender will be, "said Mathebula.

Apart from the inflation in the amount that was subsequently spent by public authorities, officials or bodies in tenders, another worrying deviation came in the form of contract extensions.

"It can not happen that [government organ] enters into a three-year contract and then the contract is extended by 12 years ", says Mathebula.

On behalf of the committee, Leah Gcabashe led the cross-examination on behalf of the committee and asked Mathebula which implementations the Treasury had introduced to ensure that deviations from purchasing processes did not become a norm.

"With effect from May 2011, Treasury has implemented a law that could allow deviations or variations in the tendering process of procurement with regard to goods and services only within a deviation of 15% or limited to R15 million, while deviations in construction-related contracts represent a threshold of 20% or R20 had a million allowance.

"All discrepancies of more than R1 million must also be reported to the Auditor General with an explanation of why there was a deviation, and all discrepancies are also recorded by the principal's office and the information that is made public on our website," Mathebula.

Mathebula, who has been acting as purchasing officer at Treasury since 2016, explained that the architecture of the procurement system in South Africa could be described as centralized (on Treasury), but its implementation was decentralized, because government departments developed their own development. supply chain processes.

According to Mathebula, since government departments had their own supply chain processes, and given that government spending on goods and services purchases amounted to approximately R800 billion per year, it would not be far-fetched to conclude that government officials need to show off their own gain.

Outspoken about ways in which government officials and entities could show off these procurement processes, Mathebula said that this could be particularly true in relation to entities that are state owned.

"Given that state-owned entities operated under their own councils, and because the Treasury gives grants to boards to monitor their day-to-day functions as they wish, there were many cases of deviations from tendering procedures for tender procedures, said Mathebula.

Mathebula told the committee that his department saw the need to cooperate with the committee and that all documents relating to all tender inquiries carried out by his department would have been made accessible for use by the committee.

Those who are waiting for revelations about how the Gupta family reportedly offered cabinet positions to government officials should be patient until Friday, when former Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas is expected to testify about how he views the position of finance minister R600 000 in cash was offered and R600 million to an account of his choice.

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