Manyi: Hawks complaint against Manuel not personal

Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)
Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Cape Town - The complaint he laid with the Hawks and the Public Protector regarding a R100m modernisation contract at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) approved by then finance minister Trevor Manuel has nothing to do with whether he and Manuel like each other or not, Mzwanele "Jimmy" Manyi, founder of the Decolonisation Foundation, told Fin24 on Thursday.

Manyi was reacting to a report by The Citizen, claiming to have been "reliably informed" about possible action by the Hawks against Manuel regarding a contract awarded to Barone, Budge & Dominick (BB&D), which develops and consults on custom software, applications and IT systems. Manuel allegedly approved the contract, which currently stands at R1bn according to an assessment, without following due processes, according to the newspaper.

Manuel told Fin24 in an emailed response he stands by his view that there is no story. "By giving you comment I may unwittingly be party to creating a story where no grounds for a story exist," he said.

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesperson of the Hawks, confirmed to Fin24 on Thursday that what he referred to as Manyi's "so-called dossier" is currently receiving attention.

He said he is only prepared to confirm that there is an inquiry, but does not want to be drawn into any speculations made in the media. He said those speculations certainly did not come from the Hawks' office.

"The inquiry is at an early stage. There is still a lot of work to be done. It would be irresponsible from our side to come to any inferences at this time," said Mulaudzi. "We request that we be given space to do our job."

The Citizen refers to a Sars Strategic IT Assessment by Gartner Consulting which shows the contract of R100m related to customer management. By June 2015, when the assessment was prepared, it found that Sars had spent about R1bn on BB&D services and about R3.9bn on modernisation. According to the Gartner assessment an open tender process was conducted to which three consortia responded, one of which was disqualified.

Although BB&D was not part of the original consortium, which achieved the highest score in the process, it was brought in by means of a tender exemption, and a memo allegedly reveals it was regarded as having "a better value for money solution", The Citizen reported.

The newspaper claims documents it saw indicate that Sars was criticised for allegedly relying on the former Sars general manager of strategy, modernisation and technology Barry Hore's "personal experience" and "memos" for the project.

Manyi subsequently laid charges of "corruption and irregularities" against Manuel, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Hore, The Citizen reported.

Manyi told Fin24 the Decolonisation Foundation, which he heads, is regarded by people as another avenue to expose what they think could be corrupt activities - "a way for whistle blowing".

"So, if I get information of this nature, I take it to the appropriate authorities. This [complaint] has its own merit and has nothing to do with my past with Trevor Manuel," said Manyi.

Without elaborating much, Manyi said a few weeks ago he received "about three documents" under his door.

"One was a memo to Manuel in his capacity as minister of finance at the time; secondly there was a 9-page document from a union at Sars, bitterly complaining about governance issues; and thirdly there was a document that seemed to be a consulting company doing an assessment," Manyi told Fin24.

Manyi said the memo he received seemed to be some motivation to get concurrence and for the minister to note it.

"Either there is a memo or there is no memo; either there was approval [of the contract] or there was an open tender. For some reason they seemed not to want to go on an open tender," said Manyi.

"All I did was hand over copies of those documents to the Hawks and the Public Protector and both confirmed receipt. Now further comment must come from them as this is where I leave the story - with them."

In August Manuel said SA's economy would be destroyed if President Jacob Zuma fires Gordhan.

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