Scopa slams correctional services commissioner

2017-06-07 20:03
Zach Modise (AFP)

Zach Modise (AFP)

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Cape Town - Commissioner of correctional services Zach Modise was told in Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday that he should consider a career move.

This after he failed to provide adequate responses to the questions of MP's on the department's accumulated irregular expenditure of R494m, which includes the controversial contract for its integrated inmate management system (IIMS).

Following the meeting, ANC whip in the committee, Mnyamezeli Booi, released a press statement wherein he asked Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha to act against Modise and his officials.

‘An irritation, an annoyance’

At first, the committee was concerned about the lack of detail in the information Modise and his team provided.

"From where I'm sitting, Scopa is treated like an irritation, an annoyance," said IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa. "We need to draw a line in the sand."

Although Booi said Modise did not do his work and despite the committee considering sending Modise and his delegation packing, they decided to continue with their questions.

DA MP Tim Brauteseth led the inquisition. He wanted to know why Modise did not provide a detailed breakdown of the accumulated irregular expenditure of R494m, some of it going as far back as 2011/2012.

Modise said he did not know the committee wanted the detailed information.

‘You are lying to this parliament’

"Mr Commissioner, this is really bad," said Brauteseth. "You are lying to this parliament, sir."

News24 revealed last year how Modise defied requests, by the office of the chief procurement officer (CPO), to review the processes followed in awarding a contract for an IIMS to Integritron Integrated Solutions.

National Treasury, under which the CPO falls, has since instructed Modise to apply steps to cancel the contract. Any fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred through cancelling the contract should be recovered from Modise personally.

The IIMS deal is included in the irregular expenditure discussed by Scopa. Brauteseth wanted to know what about it was irregular.

Modise said he can't divulge details about it because Masutha had been interdicted not to discuss it.

"I think we need to know," said Brauteseth. "I reiterate that the commissioner is lying to parliament and we will prove this."

The ensuing silence was broken by Booi, who said: "What's the issue, chairperson? He (Modise) doesn't know his department?"

Riddled with problems

Modise said the auditor general found several problems with the contract. This included that the contractor's capacity to execute was not evaluated, that the contractor's tax matters was not cleared with the South African Revenue Service, and the scoring of the bid adjudicators might not have been fair.

Modise admitted that the contract was not concluded in compliance with the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) Act.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla said: "I don't want to offer any further opinion on the matter, for the simple reason, as I said, the minister would be able to provide further information on this."

Brauteseth said he wondered if the system used before IIMS wasn't broken on purpose.

R158m contract under investigation

The committee also heard that a contract of R158m for the assessment of correctional facilities is under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit due to incorrect procurement processes. One person has been dismissed after a disciplinary process in this matter.

Brauteseth also wanted to know why out of 738 cases of irregular spending since 2011/2012, only 55 cases valued at R725 000 were finalised, and only written warnings issued.

Modise said they were busy with a process to prioritise and finalise the cases, starting with the bigger cases. The information they are getting from the AG is helping in this regard.

However, that was not good enough for Brauteseth.

‘Useless at discipline’

"How can any reasonable person not draw the conclusion that you are not absolutely useless at discipline?

“Mr Commissioner, you have to resign, we've been talking to you for three years. You have to step down, you are useless at your job, you have to step down. You came with the same excuses every time."

Modise brushed this off saying that Brauteseth is not in touch with what the department does.

"To say we are lying and that we are useless, that is not correct," he said.

After the meeting, Booi expressed the ANC study group on Scopa's dismay with the high number of senior officials in the department doing business with the state.

"The officials also appeared to not have been prepared to answer questions they had been given well ahead of today’s hearing," reads Booi's statement.

"Such conduct by government officials undermines parliament as an oversight body to hold the executive accountable. We therefore call upon the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services comrade Michael Masutha to act against the Commissioner and his officials."

He said Scopa will work closely with the Anti-Corruption Task Team to ensure that those involved in corrupt activities within the department are brought to book.

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