Pravin guns for fat-cat cadres

2010-02-14 11:43

THE National Treasury has launched an investigation into

­corruption in the Limpopo provincial government’s tender and ­procurement

processes.

Top secret documents show that the probe was ordered in November by

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The investigation is the first of its kind

under the Jacob Zuma presidency and is likely to affect people in high places in

the ruling ANC, led in the province by premier Cassel Mathale, a close ally of

both Zuma and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

Malema wields considerable influence in the Limpopo government.

Several MECs and provincial leaders – including businessman ­and chairperson of

the Limpopo Road Agency, Sello Rasethaba – are close to Malema, whom analysts

believe has clout in the awarding of tenders.

Mathale and Malema toppled former premier Sello Moloto as ANC

provincial chair at a July 2008 conference and subsequently as premier because

he was seen as being opposed to their interests.

The term “tender-preneur” is used to describe political activists

and hangers-on who have become bling-rich thanks to the state.

The probe, to be conducted by the Treasury, the Special

Investigating Unit (SIU) and the SA Revenue Services (Sars) is designed to curb

corruption, a matter of “grave concern” said Gordhan in the letter.

The minister added in his letter that powers to grant tenders had

been devolved to state officials with the authority but not the capacity to

ensure the integrity of supply chain management. Now government wants to

centralise the management of tenders.

“This correspondence serves to alert you to this initiative (the

probe) and to inform you that officials from the SIU and Sars will henceforth be

visiting institutions in the Limpopo province ... and as part of the

investigation will require documentation related to a range of specific

transactions from identified institutions,” he said.

News of the the probe comes in the wake of ­Zuma’s state of the

nation address, in which he promised renewed commitment in the fight against

corruption. The investigation also follows Cosatu boss Zwelinzima Vavi’s call

for an audit of the lavish lifestyles of political leaders and cabinet

ministers.

City Press understands the probe will be extended to other

provinces. The Treasury is mum on what triggered the probe and the total value

of the suspicious transactions.

Gordhan may shed light on this in his budget speech on Wednesday.

In his medium-term budget policy statement last October he said R28?billion

could be saved if the state cut down on travel and entertainment, and fixed the

tender ­system.


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