Claims of financial mismanagement of government’s Integrated Financial Management System is part of a well-orchestrated campaign by the “Gupta syndicate”, according to former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
Gordhan, who is currently out of the country, said he will provide a comprehensive overview of the claims next week.
This comes after Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday that Treasury had launched a forensic investigation into the IT contract, according to Business Report.
It also comes as ANN7 – which was owned by the Guptas – broadcasts continuous segments surrounding the claims. Fin24 earlier reported that the Auditor-General wanted to give National Treasury its first ever qualified audit opinion for the way in which the contract for the IFMS was awarded.
The project is meant to bring all government payments together into one system.
The first phase of the project was completed at a cost of R1.2 billion, but Cabinet in 2013 approved a change to its architecture due to specific technological changes. A new “off the shelf” payment system would cost R4.3 billion, including the R1.2 billion originally spent on the first phase.
In Gordhan’s view, the claim of mismanagement was an attempt to discredit and launch attacks “through the abuse of state institutions on those opposed to corruption and working for a renewal of the ANC so that we can once again earn the trust of citizens and ensure the ANC wins the 2019 elections”.
“These malicious actions by this nefarious clique is a sign of desperation. This is also a very transparent and ridiculous attempt to shift the focus from the plentiful evidence existing in the Public Protector state capture report and the leaked emails of plain stealing of public resources, for which this clique must still account some day soon,” said Gordhan.
He indicated that a more comprehensive reply can be expected next week.
Fin24 earlier also reported that ANN7 claims an internal Treasury audit into government’s IFMS revealed that Treasury committed 54 cases of financial misconduct in just 70 months. No one has been held accountable for these alleged transactions.
Gigaba said in May this year that it is a priority for Treasury to maintain public confidence, and gave the assurance that the report of mismanagement would be investigated.
Gigaba at the time affirmed his confidence in the integrity of Treasury’s past leadership.
Treasury’s director-general Lungisa Fuzile departed from the department earlier in May. This followed a Cabinet reshuffle where President Jacob Zuma replaced Gordhan with Gigaba.
The Progressive Professionals Forum has also called for the Public Protector to investigate the claims of maladministration at National Treasury.
“[The forum] has noted with regret and shock on the failure by National Treasury to account on the R2.2 billion spent on its IFMS project,” it said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The forum said it is “emboldened” by the commitment made by Gigaba that he will ensure that this matter is fully investigated and that all those who are found to have faulted shall be held accountable. The forum also wants Scopa to summon “all ministers and director generals responsible” to explain why taxpayer money were “wasted”.
Earlier this week, Gordhan was once again thrust into the spotlight, when Zuma’s son, Duduzane, challenged him to take him to court if he thought he had a case against him and threatened to sue him for “the damaged he has caused”.
Zuma said that Gordhan was finance minister for six of the last eight years, yet took no responsibility for this country’s economic performance in that time.
“It is always somebody else’s fault. While you were in charge at Treasury, starting in 2009, the South African economy flatlined, unemployment rose from 21% to 27% and national debt increased from 31% to a record 51%.”
Zuma also accused Gordhan of owning shares in various large South African companies, especially financial services, “an area where you have consistently blocked a state bank and more competition”.
Yet, he said, Gordhan had made no public disclosure of his holdings or noted the potential for conflicts of interest with his decision-making. – Fin24