POLITICS

Treasury's Former Acting Procurement Chief: 'Looting Of The State Is Excessive'

But transparency "is a powerful tool", says deposed Schalk Human.

08/09/2017 10:46 SAST | Updated 08/09/2017 16:07 SAST
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Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and President Jacob Zuma.

Schalk Human, who was last week deposed as National Treasury's acting chief procurement officer, says the looting of state resources by a system of patronage is "excessive".

"The office of the chief procurement officer [OCPO] has effected some major savings over the last months and years, despite the rubbish that you might see and hear from some media organisations," he told HuffPost SA in an interview.

He also said:

  • The performance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has over a long time been "suboptimal" with a lot of "wastage and wrongdoing"; "They've had a free ride for too long ... too many massive tenders have been messed up."
  • The OCPO also received flak for its investigation into Eskom, Tegeta Resources and their links to the Gupta family: "We were not popular ... it [the investigations] was frowned upon."
  • The OCPO over the last 18 months operated in an increasingly hostile political climate, with an assault on the former finance minister Pravin Gordhan by the Hawks, his application in the high court for a declaratory order and the push-back by Denel against Treasury increasing pressure on staff.

Human, who has reverted to his permanent position of chief director for supply chain management and technology, says the proper and transparent financial management of public finances always leads to savings for the taxpaying public. "We cannot hope to build the great nation that we want if there is too much wastage [of public funds]," he said.

The Governance, Monitoring and Compliance Unit is the OCPO's "teeth" and has been visible in aggressively targeting major tenders awarded illegally or irregurlarly. "It's a culture that was established by the OCPO's former head, Kenneth Brown, where we really haven't shied away from cancelling tenders when we have found wrongdoing. This office has in the past acted without fear or favour and the team that is in place will continue to do so in future."

Human said Cabinet recently approved the draft Procurement Bill that will streamline government's procurement process. It will also provide for a tribunal that will enable a swift and efficient corrective process should a tender be found to have been awarded irregularly: "It will be easy to see, for example, if a tender has been sent from a postbox in Saxonwold. Transparency is a powerful tool."

I have small children who only see their father on Sundays when he turns the meat on the braai. Give me five years and I will throw my hat into the ringSchalk Human

The government spends R840 billion annually on the procurement of goods and services and Human says the OCPO is determined to ensure that the public gets value for money.

He did not apply for the vacant OCPO position. "I have small children who only see their father on Sundays when he turns the meat on the braai. Give me five years and I will throw my hat into the ring."

Human was last week notified in a letter by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba that he was to be replaced by another acting official, Willie Mathebula, a veteran of the OCPO. It is unclear where the process to appoint a permanent replacement for Brown is.