Friday, 29 April 2022 20:10

Mkhwebane goes after SARS commissioner Kieswetter and Gordhan.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has recommended that the Hawks consider investigating alleged criminal conduct by current and former SA Revenue Service bosses including Edward Kieswetter and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.

Mkhwebane released her report into "allegations of violation of the executive ethics code promulgated in terms of section 2(1) executive members" ethics act, 1998 on Friday afternoon. 

Her investigation, though sixteen years late, centred around allegations of "maladministration, improper conduct and procurement irregularities" in connection with the awarding of a IT contract to software company Budge, Barone & Dominick (BBD).

The complaint was brought by Zuma accomplice, Mzwanele Manyi in 2016.

Mkhwebane found in her report that "the conduct of Gordhan, as the then commissioner of SARS and accounting officer, in approving the appointment of BBD, constitutes improper conduct as envisaged in the Constitution and maladministration as envisaged in the Public Protector Act."

She found that Gordhan had recommended the appointment of BBD to replace former service providers Oracle and IBM, with then finance minister Trevor Manuel approving the contract of R100 million without it going out on tender.

SARS had deviated from regular tender procedures, but Mkhwebane said she "could not find compelling reasons for them to do so".

Subsequent extensions by Gordhan's successors allegedly caused the total cost of the contract to swell to R1.4 billion, which is why the Public Protector also recommends a probe into Oupa Magashula, Tom Moyane and Kieswetter, for their "improper conduct and maladministration" in approving the extensions.

Mkhwebane wrote that the national head of the Hawks "consider investigating possible criminal conduct by the relevant accounting officers of SARS", in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

She goes further by suggesting probes and remedial action also be taken by the Finance Minister and the Auditor-General.

This includes a review of the contract and a halt of any further extensions, and the launch of a tender process to find a new service provider.

Mkhwebane has also found that the Limpopo health department failed to follow proper processes when procuring personal protective equipment (PPE). 

She said her office initiated the investigation following allegations of procurement irregularities as well as nepotism in the awarding of tenders for the supply and delivery of PPE.

"We found that, indeed, the department did not follow due processes in the procurement of PPE. The department procured the supply and delivery of PPE through an emergency procurement process provided for in the National Treasury Practice Notes," Mkhwebane found.

Mkhwebane said evidence was uncovered to prove the department did not comply with the National Treasury's supply chain management (SCM) instruction regarding the procurement of PPE by appointing service providers who were not tax compliant.

The Public Protector found that some companies were awarded PPE tenders, but did not render any services and were not paid. 

Mkhwebane found the conduct of the head of department (HOD) was in direct contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).