INTERVIEW: Treasury boss says Gordhan and Nene were not involved in IT saga

 Dondo Mogajane
Dondo Mogajane

Cape Town – National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane said no ministers were involved in allegations of irregularities regarding government's Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS).

His assurance came after President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, wrote an open letter to former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, accusing him of being responsible for the irregularities in the system, which was approved by Cabinet in 2005 when Trevor Manuel was still finance minister. Gordhan was finance minister from 2009 to 2014 and was replaced by Nhlanhla Nene. Gordhan then replaced Des van Rooyen in 2015, shortly after his appointment. Mogajane's comments were not in response to Zuma's letter.

Mogajane, who started working at National Treasury as a deputy director in 1999, said no ministers played a role in the system.

“Officials obviously run this thing,” he told Fin24 in an interview on Thursday. “I have been around here for many, many years and I don’t get a sense that a minister approved a payment or a minister approved something. I have never experienced that.”

Gordhan, who sees the attack as a ploy to deflect attention from state capture allegations, is expected to give a full statement on the issue in the next 10 days.

This comes as National Treasury conducts a forensic investigation into alleged irregularities in the IFMS programme. Treasury is also one of the implementing agencies of IFMS, along with the Department of Public Service and Administration and the State Information Technology Agency.

AUDIO: Full interview with Dondo Mogajane

In the interview, which can be heard in full here, Mogajane explained the full history of the IFMS programme and what they are doing now in the wake of the allegations.

Mogajane revealed that he was making changes in the department as part his efforts to get the IFMS programme under control.  “I have made some changes,” he said. “I have moved staff from the project. I have got new people who will act. Soon I will be advertising a project manager position for the project.”

“The project cannot be abandoned at this stage,” he said. “The programme is huge and is important for the whole of government.”

Following on from this, Mogajane announced on Friday that Willie Mathebula will replace Schalk Human as acting chief procurement officer; Zanele Mxunyelwa will replace Jayce Nair as acting accountant-general; and Phila Mhlakaza will replace Lindy Bodewig as acting chief director of the IFMS.

Speaking to Fin24 about the forensic investigation, Mogajane said Treasury is known for its clean image and for its high levels of transparency, which it will prove throughout this process.

“I want us to deal with it (the allegations),” he said. “If there is any wrong doing, I want the forensic audit to bring that out, in order for us to deal with it effectively. If there is any act of criminality, we must deal with it. If there are any pointers about where we can improve governance, and increase internal controls, we have to do that.

“There could be areas where there were lapses in governmence. There could be issues of corruption that we have to unpack and actually deal with. If it means firing people, then we would have to do that.

“It is important that the public is brought into the confidence that National Treasury has not collapsed,” he said. “National Treasury systems are in place.

“National Treasury will continue to ensure public resources are managed in the most efficient and effective ways. If it is one rotten apple in the National Treasury, we must deal with it.”

On Friday, Cabinet commended National Treasury for its robust internal audit controls, which identified irregular expenditure.

“It trusts that the appropriate lessons will be learned with respect to the challenges experienced, and any deliberate wrongdoing or negligence will be identified and the parties held accountable,” it said in a statement.

“Cabinet has full confidence in the institutional strength of National Treasury and its custodianship of public finances.

“Cabinet further expresses its faith in the IFMS programme’s implementing agencies … to implement the project successfully.”

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