Premier must now act on officials doing business with government

Anthony Benadie MPL Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza must now act on government employees doing business, as promised in his 2013 State of the Province Address. In the address, the premier boldly stated: “To show our seriousness in dealing with challenges, the provincial government has taken a decision that no public servants will be permitted to do business with government anymore, effective as from today, the 1st of March 2013.” However, since his announcement, the premier has given no indication on how he was going to enforce this decision. In the latest Auditor-General’s (AG) General Report on Audit Outcomes for Provincial Government Departments, the AG found that 311 officials or close family members were awarded contracts amounting to R68 million in the 2011/12 financial year. However, despite the premier’s wish, National Treasury regulations stipulate that government employees must disclose their interests when bidding for government contracts and recuse themselves from the supply chain process when their or close members of their families’ bids are presented, in order to prevent any allegations of tender manipulation. By implication, not all officials doing business with government are necessarily doing so illegally, potentially creating a contractual nightmare for the premier to enforce his own decisions. To this end, the premier must: * Investigate all 311 contracts in question and establish whether all legislative requirements about disclosure and recusal were met and had been followed; * Determine if all contracts of officials doing business with government were awarded fairly and legally; and * Immediately make public his plan and strategy to phase out the practise of government employees doing business with government, including accurate timeframes for its completion. Only once premier Mabuza presents evidence that he has acted to implement the announcements he made, can we begin to take government’s commitment to fight corruption seriously.

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