Inside jobs: civil servants' roaring illegal trade with government
State employees are siphoning off billions through the unlawful awarding of tenders, an auditor-general report reveals
More than 670 civil servants are unlawfully doing business with the government, scoring close to R1bn in tenders in the past financial year, according to the department of public service and administration and the auditor-general’s office.
Among them is a political office bearer in Gauteng and another in the Free State.
Department spokesperson Mava Scott said that as of March 2018, the national treasury had found 679 employees were conducting business with an organ of state. Of these, 183 were from national departments and 496 from provincial departments.
In his consolidated report auditor-general Kimi Makwetu said government officials and their families had unlawfully scored R1.2bn in contracts with the state in the 2017/18 financial year. Of these, 694 tenders worth R888m had gone to officials and politicians, and 870 tenders worth R345m to their families without government employees declaring this, as required by regulations.
Scott said state employees were not allowed to be a director of a private or public company conducting business with the government. However, some state-owned entities were exempt, as listed in the Public Finance Management Act.
“National treasury has a system in place that requires any candidate who wants to register on the centralised supplier database to declare if they are employees in the public service.”
Those found contravening the regulations were referred to their departments for disciplinary measures.
“Normally they are charged with misconduct and the normal public service disciplinary action is taken. Sanctions depend on the respective department.”
But Scott said the department was in the process of strengthening sanctions, while the Public Administration Management Act would introduce “sanctions such as dismissal, fines or imprisonment or a combination of all.”
“With the new act, state employees found doing business with the state will be charged criminally.
“We are done with our submission. In the new financial year we will submit to the presidency for proclamation.”
Regulations implemented in August 2016 prohibit government employees from doing business with the state. They were given until February 2017 to stop doing business or resign from their jobs.
Auditor-general spokesperson Africa Boso said that of the R888m in tenders awarded to government employees, R107m had gone to Gauteng, R61m to Limpopo, R60m to KwaZulu-Natal, R24m to the Free State, R4m to North West, R2m to the Eastern Cape, R250,000 to Mpumalanga, R56,562 to the Western Cape and R8,460 to the Northern Cape. A further R630m had been awarded by national departments.
Boso said that of the R335m in tenders unlawfully awarded to family members of government employees, KwaZulu-Natal paid R44m, Gauteng 34m, Limpopo R32m, the Eastern Cape R15m, the Free State R10m, Mpumalanga R6m, North West R5m, the Northern Cape R1m and the Western Cape R194,524.
More than R187m had been awarded by national departments.
During the ANC manifesto launch in Durban, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that the government would crack down on civil servants doing business with the state.
“Don’t mix doing business with serving the people of our country. We are warning that there will be considerable consequences for those who do not comply,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the government would ensure that those responsible for stealing public resources, and in the process depriving South Africans of opportunities, were brought to book.