Eastern Cape 'defies' National Treasury

South African money.
South African money.
Image: Stock Photo

The Eastern Cape government is under fire for allegedly approving the payment of more than R170-million on broadband services in a deal that was not authorised by the National Treasury.

The province wants to connect its departments with fast internet to improve service delivery. More than 7‚100 sites had to be connected‚ the Daily Dispatch reported on Monday.

The plan was to piggyback on a 10-year multi-billion rand broadband tender between the Western Cape government and a Gauteng-based company.

Eastern Cape director-general Marion-Mbina Mthembu allegedly approved the payment on December 6 of R171-million to the company. This was despite a request for approval being turned down in a letter by Willie Mathebula‚ acting chief procurement officer at National Treasury.

Democratic Alliance MPL Bobby Stevenson on Monday called on the provincial treasury to “conduct a forensic investigation” into the Office of the Premier.

“I call on the MEC for Finance and Provincial Expenditure‚ Sakhumzi Somyo‚ to publicly state whether or not the payment of R171-million … was made or not. The contract for broadband rollout could potentially run into over R1-billion‚” he said in a statement.

“The Premier‚ Phumulo Masualle‚ must also tell us whether his office approved this payment and if so‚ on what basis. The Premier must publicly state why the rollout of broadband was not put out to tender‚ which was the recommendation of National Treasury.”

Provincial government spokesperson Mandisa Titi denied that payment was processed‚ adding that Mbina-Mthembu had halted it.

Stevenson said the portfolio committee on the Office of the Premier had noted‚ when examining the 2016/2017 annual report‚ that government had allocated R740-million to fast-track the implementation of the first phase of a broadband rollout to connect more than 5‚000 government facilities in eight district municipalities over three years.

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