Gauteng e-Government MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko has raised concerns over lapses in her department in the lead up to the procurement of the controversial R30 million information technology tender.
Her department has come under the spotlight following a City Press exposé accusing the department of using the coronavirus as a cover to rush through the contract without following proper procedures.
Nkomo-Ralehoko has questioned why her staff, including own head of department, had delayed signing off on the contract which is used on a month-to-month basis.
Both Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the Special Investigations Unit said they would investigate the allegations surrounding the tender.
The newspaper reported the contract – won by In2IT technologies to provide Gauteng’s e-government department with IT services, including cybersecurity – was reportedly concluded within 24 hours, with the bidding process only being opened for two hours.
The IT company is also said to be the sponsor of popular football club Moroka Swallows FC.
In an interview with News24 following the claims, Nkomo-Ralehoko insisted proper processes were put in place and the tender was an issue that needed to be resolved.
“This contract was happening month to month which was a concern for all of us. In the past 10 months that I have been [in this position], more than R24 million have been paid out already,” she said.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said month-to-month contracts were not advertised, no quotations were collected and the money was paid out monthly.
“I told the colleagues let’s do the right thing.”
She added in the 2016/17 financial year, the Auditor-General’s findings stated the contract and all extensions after it expired in March 2016 were declared as irregular expenditure.
“I am running on irregular expenditure, month to month, not in one contract, not two contracts … there are many contracts like that.”
Nkomo-Ralehoka, who took over from Barbara Creecy as finance MEC and has only been on the job for 10 months following her appointment after the 2019 general elections, said she was sitting with a list of month-to-month contracts.
“I don’t want irregular expenditure in my department,” she added, saying she wanted to clean up the department’s contracts.
Nkomo-Ralehoka said she welcomed the various investigations being undertaken regarding the R30 million contract, adding she wanted to also look into a series of delays which plagued the termination of some contracts.
“Every time we were supposed to terminate, there would be a delay, there would be a sick leave, or someone would not come to work.”
She said during the process of terminating the contracts, the head of department would be nowhere to be found without furnishing her with reasons for her absence.
“Interestingly, even this month my head of department for treasury, who was supposed to sign this letter from provincial to national treasury, it was so difficult for her to sign, she ended up taking a leave on the 23rd and 24th without notifying me as the MEC,” added Nkomo-Ralehoko.
She also insisted this was not an attempt to blame anyone for the delays but to reflect that there were issues in the signing off on important documents in her department.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said the deviations in the procurement of the IT tender had been communicated with both Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and the National Treasury.
Gauteng Treasury head of department Nomfundo Tshabalala, through spokesperson John Sukazi, denied she had been the cause of any delays.
“Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala has always been available to attend to all work-related matters,” he said in a written response to News24.
Sukazi, in listing how events around the security operations centre procurement unfolded, said the Treasury had received a letter from the e-Government department on 2 March, which was responded to on 23 March, this in spite the MEC’s claims she was not at work on that date.
“Provincial Treasury has a seven-working day turnaround time for all departments. Therefore, this request was dealt with within the normal timelines,” he added.