Zondo Commission told of gaps in Treasury's regulatory framework

Treasury’s Willie Mathebula has been outlining the operational framework of National Treasury to determine where public procurement played a role in state capture.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Treasury’s Willie Mathebula has conceded at the Zondo Commission that there could be some gaps in Treasury's regulatory framework.

He’s been outlining the operational framework of National Treasury to determine where public procurement played a role in state capture.

He was appointed an acting chief of procurement in September 2017 by then Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.

At the heart of the state capture inquiry are allegations that contracts and tenders were illegally awarded by state-owned enterprises and entities to individuals and businesses.

Evidence leader Advocate Leah Gcabashe says Mathebula’s evidence will clarify where government’s procurement system is failing.

“It’s just to give context to the commission on the procurement landscape.”

Mathebula, himself, has told the commission there could be some gaps in their processes in ensuring that public funds are not abused.

“In our own regulatory framework… and from time to time we issue instructions, Treasury instructions, to augment.”

Gcabashe says Mathebula’s evidence will also help the commission to determine what part of public procurement played a defining role in allegations of state capture.

‘INTENTIONAL ABUSE OF THE SYSTEM’

Mathebula has told the Zondo Commission most of tender procurement process violations in government were the result of intentional abuse of the system.

Mathebula says deviations within Treasury are often used on matters of emergency, but recently it’s become a norm in government departments and state-owned entities.

“You would find instances where a contract starts at R4 million, and by the time you know it the contract value is sitting at R200 million. And you ask yourself, 'how is this possible'?”

Mathebula says they’ve issued several instructions over the years to tighten regulations.

“Also the reasons for deviating from a normal procurement process must be reported by the accounting officers, for audit purposes. That’s one instruction.”

Mathebula says there’s an urgent need for training and development of procurement officers in all state organs.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)