Willie Mathebula briefs Parly's finance committee for first time

Mathebula, a veteran Treasury staffer of 15 years, has faced some tough questions while briefing Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance for the first time.

Treasury’s new acting chief procurement officer Willie Mathebula. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Treasury’s new acting chief procurement officer is having a baptism of fire in Parliament.

Willie Mathebula was appointed head of the division in charge of managing the government’s procurement last month.

He replaced Schalk Human who was acting after the resignation of the country’s first chief procurement officer, Kenneth Brown.

Mathebula, a veteran Treasury staffer of 15 years, has faced some tough questions while briefing Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance for the first time.

Mathebula has denied describing his office as “more of a dictator than an enabler” and says he’s only met Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and his deputy as part of a team and not on his own.

Mathebula was responding to questions about a City Press report at the weekend.

“The article is completely inaccurate insofar as Willie Mathebula is concerned.”

Mathebula’s also been asked why he apparently ignored questions the committee sent to him about the office’s review of contracts of more than R10 million, including Eskom’s controversial Tegeta coal contract.

Mathebula provided the committee with some details of 793 applications to Treasury by government departments and entities for deviations from normal procurement processes, ranking the top 10 requests by value, totalling R37,6 billion.

Eskom tops the list with deviations amounting to R31,3 billion, followed by Sars (R1,2 billion), the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (R685 million) and Sassa (R405 million).

A similar list of “top 10” requests for expansions or variations of contracts amounting to a total of R42 billiom also has Eskom in first place, with an amount of R33 billion, followed by the Department of Health (R6,2 billion) and the Airports Company of South Africa (R868m).

Common reasons for deviations, expansions and variations included lack of planning by government departments and their entities, inadequate skills, including contract management, Mathebula told the committee.

Asked about procurement plans and costs for the controversial nuclear build programme, Mathebula has told the committee its questions should rather be directed to the Department of Energy.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)