President Jacob Zuma’s Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC) is to study the Competition Commission’s report into the construction cartel with a view to laying criminal charges against those who defrauded taxpayers.
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, who is a member of the PICC, says the government views the crimes committed by the 15 construction firms as corruption rather than collusion.
Addressing members of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) in Joburg yesterday, Mokonyane said the government was prepared to act against the implicated companies even though they have paid a total of R1.4 billion in admission of guilt fines.
Mokonyane, who is also an ANC national executive committee member, said PICC members included KwaZulu Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the executive mayors of Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
“We have agreed that once we receive the report of the Competition Commission, we are quite determined to take the matter to greater heights. We see this as corruption because money was actually taken away. The state was defrauded and, most importantly, there was no value for money,” Mokonyane said.
The 15 companies paid the fine early this year as part of a fast-track agreement with the commission. They admitted to fixing and inflating prices for 2010 World Cup-related construction projects, between 2006 and 2009, to the tune of more than R40bn.
Mokonyane said the PICC would challenge the commission’s classification of the crime as collusion.
She said the government would file charges against the companies rather than individual executives because it was up to those firms to take action against employees who brought them into disrepute.
Mokonyane said the media, law enforcement agencies and society in general had treated the culprits with kid gloves simply because they were not politicians.
“It’s a problem that has always been there in government where the issue of the corruptor and the corruptee is not treated equally. If it was a politician, everyone would have the politician to task. Now it’s the other way round, we seem not to know what should be done, and we try to hide behind what is said to be the regulations from the Competition Commission”.
Mokonyane said she was unable to say when the PICC would act because the matter was not in her government’s hands.
She urged the culprits to demonstrate remorse by contributing towards the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.
Mokonyane denied claims that her government chose to source skilled engineers beyond our borders. She said Gauteng was forced to do so because predominantly white engineering firms chose to relocate to the Western Cape rather than agree to absorb black engineers to transfer skills and transform.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s spokesman Zak Mbhele yesterday dismissed Mokonyane’s assertion that engineers preferred the province because they were not required to transform.
“The Western Cape attracts many people of all backgrounds who want to live and work here because, under the DA government, it has become a province of opportunity, clean governance and effective delivery.
“This is shown by the national government’s MPAT and the Census 2011 reports,” Mbhele said.
“The Western Cape government has a very good record of implementing broad-based BEE through its pro- curement systems.”
The Construction Industry Development Board is considering whether affected companies should be blacklisted from government contracts. - The Star