- Willie Mathebula became the first witness to testify at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on its second day
- Mathebula is the current acting procurement officer at the National Treasury and has more than 15 years in various positions within the Treasury Department
- He explained to the commission how the procurement process works and how the system can be abused by those within the government
Willie Mathebula became the first witness to testify at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on its second day. Mathebula is currently serving as the acting procurement officer at the National Treasury and has over the last 15 years served in various other roles within the Treasury Department.
Mathebula explained to the commission how the government’s procurement and tender process works and how it could be abused by those who walk the halls of power. He further explained to the commission how the process is regulated.
Mathebula said the national government was the largest procurer of goods and services in the country and this role played a vital part in the economy. According to his testimony, the government spends around R800 billion per annum on tenders.
Briefly.co.za gathered that Mathebula told the commission that Treasury was currently looking into the establishment of a tender ombudsman which would deal with alleged irregularities. He said this would provide a cooling-down period for contested tenders.
Mathebula could, however, not provide any statistics about how many or the percentage of tenders which had been disputed.
News24.com reported that according to Mathebula the tender process was wilfully ignored in at least half of all cases. He said the first part of the tender process was currently highly susceptible to abuse because government officials could personalise tenders to suit specific requirements.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo admitted that Mathebula’s testimony was critical because he personally was not familiar with how procurement worked. Zondo added that this critical government function should be protected from abuse.
Mathebula went on to say that identifying crooked tenders was difficult and was largely dependent on the skills and experience of the person investigating a suspected irregular tender. He said personally he had found a number of crooked tenders which had been duly rejected.
Mathebula admitted that the procurement department did not have sufficient recourses both in terms of finances and people to adequately police tender irregularities.
He said there was a very small number of people tasked with dealing with tender irregularities and they had to investigate numerous different government departments. Mathebula said Treasury was looking at ways to improve its internal auditing process to help vet tenders.
Another possibility was employing external auditors who would have to approve tenders before they proceeded to the next stage in the chain of command.
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