Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba

JOHANNESBURG - The Standing Committee on Public Accounts has rapped the National Treasury over the knuckles for losing billions in an IT programme that never took off the ground.

Scopa on Tuesday called on Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to take decisive action against officials responsible for the collapse of the Integrated Financial Management System after spending R1 billion in the first phase. 

Scopa chairman Themba Godi described the implementation of the IFMS project as shambolic and shocking.

The National Treasury, led by Gigaba, faced a grilling from Scopa over the project. Godi said this situation must never be repeated and said action was needed against those responsible.

“Here is a national programme, but the way it is implemented is so shambolic...R1bn later you realise it is not working. It is shocking it will come to that,” said Godi.

This was after Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane admitted that the first phase of the IFMS project was never implemented after they spent R1bn on it.

Godi said the issue was about National Treasury making the right decisions. He said there were many problems with the project, starting with the lack of cost of the project. 

This was even confirmed by the Treasury’s internal audit committee. 

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Godi said service providers had a free hand in the project as they were not monitored if they delivered the services required.

ANC MP Nyami Booi also said the R1bn lost in the project could have been used to build houses. He accused the Treasury of throwing money into the IFMS project without checking if it would get value for money. He said at the end the treasury did not get a return on its R1bn investment in the project. 

Tim Brauteseth of the DA also said the treasury never got value for the money spent on the project. He also questioned the use of consultants who cost the treasury another money.

Mogajane said they had launched a forensic investigation into what went wrong in the project. Gigaba said they will soon be appointing a team that would conduct the investigation.

He said they will report back to Scopa on the findings of the probe. 

Gigaba said they wanted to get to the bottom of the problems in the project.

“I take full responsibility for what has happened in order to ensure the problems here are properly addressed. I hope we don’t come back to Scopa again to face the grilling we faced today,” said Gigaba.

He also promised to give Scopa more information on the original cost of the project when it was first submitted to the Cabinet in 2002.

The project was supposed to be implemented from 2005, but it was never implemented.