'Radebe must answer'

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

Embattled Transport Minister Jeff Radebe must appear before parliament's watchdog public accounts committee to answer questions on tender procedures and the manner in which millions of taxpayers money was spent on the troubled eNatis system.

This is the view of standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) member Eddie Trent, of the DA, who says Radebe must take full responsibility for what is happening with the multimillion- rand system that has been beset by problems.

eNatis is the abbreviation for electronic National Traffic Management System.

The system has resulted in chaos at traffic offices throughout the country, particularly regarding licence renewals and registrations.

Trent said that it was not good enough that the department's director-general Mpumi Mpofu answer the questions.

Radebe has already appeared before another of parliament's watchdog committees, the portfolio committee on transport, chaired by Jeremy Cronin.

"The final responsibility must lie with the minister for non-performance, and for good performance, for that matter," said Trent. The political head must carry the responsibility.

"You can't always pass the responsibility to the directors- general," Trent said.

Trent's comments yesterday to Sowetan come in the wake of a Sunday Times report that Scopa has sent Mpofu a list of questions, that include asking how many companies had tendered for the project. Scopa chairman Themba Godi has reportedly received some responses, which show that the tender was awarded to the most expensive bidder.

Some of the answers show that the project was awarded to the Tasima consortium at a value of R354,7million, beating 11 other companies who had bid lower than the final cost of R408million.

Trent said that Scopa did not have the power to investigate, but did have the mandate to ask questions and get information to determine the facts.

Auditor-General Terence Nombembe is also conducting an audit of the system.

Recently, Nombembe's office was embroiled in controversy after it emerged that he had concluded in a draft report in December that the eNatis system would crash.

But the report apparently never reached Radebe's office, but had gone instead to Thabo Tsholetsane, the head of the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

Recently Radebe failed in a bid to gag Beeld newspaper, which wanted to reveal security problems inherent in the system.