Businessman Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi today slammed Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) acting boss Phumla Williams’s evidence against him at the state capture inquiry, saying he got rid of corruption which Williams was part of.
The former owner of the now defunct The New Age newspaper and ANN7 news channel was supposed to appear later this month, but arrived at the commission insisting to give his evidence on what happened at GCIS before he arrived.
He was GCIS CEO between 2011 and 2012.
Manyi said he found there was something “horribly wrong” at the GCIS procurement division. He said he agreed with Williams’ testimony that he undertook “dramatic changes” when at GCIS.
“It was my duty as the accounting officer to give substance to the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act], because at the end of the day I would be the one accountable. Yes I did change the bid adjudication committee. I found out that something had gone horribly wrong in procurement. There was an irregular appointment of a service providers, one cost government at least R7 million. The total project was worth R26 million,” he said.
Manyi said he discovered a collaboration between the bid committee members and those responsible for procurement.
“They had a typical way of doing this…it was a mini VBS. The situation was untenable…there was no way an accounting officer would leave it like that. I told the chief internal auditor to report that to authorities and the auditor-general. Nothing much came out of that.”
The service provider was contracted to do work for Statistics SA’s census campaign in 2011. Manyi said it was then agreed together with the Statistician General to ask National Treasury to launch a probe.
“I must point out that all this calamity happened in the presence and the participation of the people Miss Williams gave glowing CVs that they were competent and had ticked all the boxes. But despite ticking boxes, there was corruption and fraud with a lot of them implicated in that…I had to unbundle that bid adjudication committee.”
He continued and presented a National Treasury report released in 2012 on the investigation. The report found that the company was never screened by GCIS before appointment. The company was registered in December 2009. On January 3, 2011, three directors came into the company, and three days later on January 6, 2011, the company was already in the GCIS system, he said.
“On 7 January, there was payment notice to approve commissioning of the R26 million project. The person that signed this was Williams, Treasury found that she was not delegated to do this. These are things that happened before I arrived,” he said.
“All these was done in Miss Williams’ empire. There were no checks and balances… every rule that could be broken was broken here. This was a monumental crisis.”
Because any contract worth a million rand and more required Treasury permission, the contract was split up so that amounts of less than one million could be claimed through many invoices, said Manyi.
He mentioned another instance for Statistics SA again where at least R64 million was paid but no work was done by three service providers.
“R64 million was paid for work that was never delivered. This is grand corruption and state capture. With VBS, all [implicated] are educated but corruption continued. This [Treasury] report was made available in 2012, I had left government at that time and could not do anything as I was outside government,” said Manyi.
He said Williams had been a member of the GCIS bid adjudication for 10 years, which he said “was wrong as it exposed people to corruption”.
Manyi decried a lack of action from Treasury to bring the wrongdoers to book.
“I was somehow disappointed by Treasury to recover that R64 million. They say in the report that they tried to find the supplier who did not return their calls…and just left it like that. R64 million? Treasury has a duty in terms of the constitution to ensure the country’s finances are in order.”
Manyi said he arrived at GCIS after former minister in the presidency, the late Collins Chabane, offered him to choose between GCIS CEO or COO at a hotel in Midrand.
He chose GCIS, taking over from Themba Maseko who was fired for not bidding for the controversial Gupta family. Maseko was under pressure from the Guptas to channel R600 million government advertising spent to the Guptas’ The New Age newspaper, and was fired and replaced by Manyi.
– African News Agency (ANA)