Departing procurement chief upbeat about next Treasury role

Schalk Human, former acting chief procurement officer at National Treasury.
Schalk Human, former acting chief procurement officer at National Treasury.

Cape Town – Former acting chief procurement officer Schalk Human said he is upbeat about his next role at National Treasury’s procurement unit, dispelling reports that he was forced out of his job.

National Treasury director general Dondo Mogajane's announcement of a change of leadership in the department last week met with a critical response in the media. Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said it was a victory for the state capture faction.

“The fact is that Schalk Human and the officials who worked with him were some of the most important soldiers in the battle against state capture, and yet they were made to walk the plank by a minister who does not have the guts to stand up and fight for National Treasury,” Maynier said in a statement.

However, Human told Fin24 on Monday that he has not been forced out of his corner office overlooking the Union Buildings in Pretoria, instead pledging his commitment to strengthening key projects in the office, which has only been in existence since 2013.

While Willie Mathebula was appointed as the new acting chief procurement officer, Human explained that a new permanent official will be appointed to the job soon – perhaps even by October. Mogajane told Business Day on Sunday that Human had not applied for this position.

Human said the role was advertised shortly after Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was appointed at the end of March. “The interviews have been conducted and the process needs Cabinet approval before the appointment can be made,” he said. “In the meantime, I am off to Columbia and Spain for official business.”

Gigaba wants to reassure the public that there are no political games being played at National Treasury, his spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, told Fin24 on Monday.

“There is no time for that. The only political games being played are outside Treasury, and it is disingenuous,” he said. "The minister does not interfere with the technocrats of National Treasury."

WATCH: Schalk Human on the chief procurement office (March 2017 interview)

Where to now for Human?

Human was the director of the financial management improvement programme at Treasury, and acted as accountant general for just over a year before assuming his role as chief director of supply chain management ICT. However, when Kenneth Brown resigned at the end of 2016, Human became acting chief procurement officer.

In this role, Human headed up Treasury’s investigation into Tegeta regarding its coal contracts with Eskom. However, Human’s passion has been for modernising supply chain systems and technology. That is where he wants to return his focus. Human said he wants to focus on ensuring that the supply chain management module in the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) becomes a success.

Gigaba last month launched a forensic investigation into the system, after allegations of irregularities emerged. Treasury has been accused of wasting R1bn on a system that has not been fully implemented yet.

Human also led the savings project focusing on top suppliers of government under Brown. Human said the programme has already saved billions for South African taxpayers.

“There is a media narrative that we have messed up some of our contracts, but so far we have saved R7bn. It is fundamental that we use technology smarter to get transparency and value for money,” he said.

“We want to make a success of this project. When the director general (Mogajane) is back from China, we will decide on a role I can play regarding the project.”

Human: Our team is strong

Mogajane told Fin24 last week that he will be advertising a project manager position for the IFMS to ensure the problems are identified and corrected – and that the system regains its momentum.

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

Whatever his role, Human said he will remain in the office of the chief procurement officer and is eager to contribute meaningfully. “I am going to be here,” he said. “I am still a part of the chief procurement office and I can contribute a lot.”

He said that the team is strong and won’t be affected by a change in leadership. “Changing the leader won’t affect the team,” he said.

He pointed to key officials in the office, who he says are pillars of strength: Solly Tshitangano, chief director of supply chain governance, and Kenneth Pillay, chief director of transversal contracting.

“Solly was responsible for the correctional services investigation,” he said. “You won’t find many people like Solly - he is committed to Treasury. Kenneth Pillay is smart and active. So, there is a strong team of people here. I also hope I have made a small contribution. We work well together.”

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