Tenders: Keeping it in the family
Johannesburg - More than 190 government officials and 18 close relatives of the officials were awarded state tenders to the value of R113m in the past financial year.
This startling revelation is revealed in Auditor General Terence Nombembe’s national audit outcomes report for 2010/11.
Nombembe told City Press it was becoming more difficult to detect conflicts of interest because government officials rarely shared surnames with their relatives.
The AG’s report reveals:
»R36m in tenders were awarded to 59 officials and 14 close family members of the department of defence;
»R32m worth of tenders were given to seven officials of the SA Revenue Service (Sars);
»A R30m tender was awarded to an official in the National Home Builders Registration Council;
»Home affairs gave tenders worth R9.7m to 48 staff members; and
»The State Information Technology Agency (R4.6m), SANparks (R3.5m), the transport department (R3.1m), the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (R2.3m) and the police (R1.4m) also awarded tenders to officials or their family.
The AG’s report blames political leaders and accounting officers for not ensuring that officials were declaring their financial interests.
In some instances, the report found that departments were not able to determine whether decisions to award tenders were not “unlawfully and improperly” influenced by business interests.
In their defence, government departments said in most instances officials who did business with the state were not senior managers who are required to disclose their financial interests. These “junior” officials were using loopholes that only seniors used to declare their interests.
The defence ministry’s Siphiwe Dlamini said an investigation was under way to determine whether any of the implicated 59 officials had violated policies when they were awarded the tenders.
He said: “The names of these officials, who are not senior managers, are being investigated and if they are found to have violated procurement policies, they will face disciplinary action.”
Dlamini added that most of these officials were in lower ranks that are not required to disclose their financial interests.
The receiver challenged the AG’s findings.
Spokesperson Adrian Lackay said the seven officials had permission to serve on the board of Sars’ customs subsidiary, Clidet, without any remuneration.