Zwane’s testimony in Free State housing scandal postponed to 13 October

Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane. Picture: Gallo Images

Zwane’s legal team were provided with ‘voluminous’ documentation and they required an opportunity to go through it.

Chairperson of the state capture inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has postponed the testimony of former Free State Human Settlements MEC Mosebenzi Zwane.

Zwane was meant to return to the commission to continue with with his testimony in relation to the R1 billion Free State housing project on Tuesday.

However, on Tuesday morning, evidence leader, advocate Paul Pretorius, told Zondo that Zwane’s legal team were provided with “voluminous” documentation and they required an opportunity to go through it.

Zwane will return to the commission on 13 October.

When he appeared before the commission last week, Zwane laid the blame on department officials for not following tender processes in the awarding of contracts in the housing project.

He said the officials suggested the creation of a database in order to provide work for contractors, after an open tender process was abandoned.

The database included disqualified bidders, the commission heard. He also told the commission that he was assured by the officials that the database was lawful.

He said after a tender process was abandoned after its period had expired, he required a way forward from the officials.

He alleged that former department head Mpho Mokoena was one of the officials who advised him to use the database as opposed to an open tender process to award contracts.

Process

He claimed that Mokoena said this was a process that had been used by previous MECs before him, adding that it was a process allowed for under the Housing Act. But when Zwane was asked about the Act, he claimed to know nothing about it.

Mokoena, who also appeared before Zondo, claimed that after telling Zwane that his idea of an advance payment to contractors was illegal, and that contractors could not be paid before work, that Zwane said he should resign if he did not want to implement his plan.

In 2010 and 2011, Free State residents were meant to get houses, but many were never built.

The commission heard the department made an advance payment of more than R500 million to contractors before any work was done.

The department had also lost over R400 million, the commission heard.

The money was spent after the national department threatened to transfer some of the province’s budget to “better performing provinces”.

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