Mzwanele Manyi has accused acting GCIS head Phumla Williams of corruption. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
With her testimony before the Zondo Commission blaming her former boss Mzwanele Manyi for the negative impact of his wholesale changes at the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS), acting head Phumla Williams seems to have stirred up a hornet’s nest with Manyi now charging her with corruption at the GCIS.

Manyi insisted on giving his side of the story and was granted permission to do so by the commission probing allegations of state capture, sitting in Parktown, on Wednesday.

On the rot that Manyi alleges happened on Williams’ watch as chairperson of the Bid Adjudication Committee, he cited one example where, in one tender irregularity, a service provider was paid R777 755.88.

“The total amount paid irregularly was R7 761 215.90,” Manyi told commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

“I submit that when I arrived at the department, I re-appointed Ms Miriam Phumla Williams in the same position which she occupied as the chairperson of the Bid Committee in order to maintain smooth operations whilst I was learning the GCIS operations. This again demonstrates that I did not come in with a particular agenda to fix that which was not broken.”

In her witness statement before the commission, Williams decried the efficacy of the changes Manyi instituted.

“The catalyst for the change was upon discovery that some members of the Bid Adjudication Committee, working in concert with some employees in the procurement department, had irregularly appointed a certain service provider and furthermore, corrupt and fraudulent activities took place in the execution of that tender resulting in serious financial losses to Government amounting to R6983640.02 for just the one service provider.”

Manyi labelled virtually the entire Williams testimony about him as false.

“The third (of) February 2011 was my first day as CEO (director general) of GCIS and as Cabinet spokesperson. The submission by Ms Phumla Williams stating that Mr Themba Maseko left GCIS in January 2011 is false.”

Manyi and his predecessor came and went respectively, within hours of each other. They even spoke, according to Manyi, before Maseko excused himself to attend to a prior engagement.

Williams was so certain of the dates, she told the commission, as she recalled she even had to go stand in for Maseko at the World Economic Forum.

“This project was as an outdoor campaign on behalf of Stats SA for the Census 2011,” Manyi says.

“When this calamity was brought to my attention, I asked the Chief Internal Auditor to report this matter to all appropriate authorities. This irregularity was reported to the Special Investigating Unit and to the auditor-general.

“In addition, GCIS under my leadership, and Stats SA under the leadership of the Statistician-General, jointly requested National Treasury to conduct a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of this irregularity.”

“Despite the presence of members of the ‘Rolls Royce’ Bid Adjudication Committee, which Ms Phumla Williams vouched for that it ticked all the boxes, in terms of National Treasury guidelines/circular, including having a CFO and five days training course on procurement, serious corruption and fraud occurred.”

Attempts to obtain comment from Williams drew a blank. But in a Facebook post on Thursday, Williams wrote: “Good afternoon good people. Just wish to reconfirm every word of my testimony to the Zondo Commission!”

Manyi, who was in his element, told the commission: “I, therefore, lost confidence in the arrangement that prevailed, and yes, I dismantled the Bid Adjudication Committee and changed some of the reporting lines to ensure that the objectives of PFMA are achieved.”

He then told the commission about the curious dates the company was registered and paid by GCIS. 

“A payment notice prepared on January 6, 2011, was approved on the very next day, 7 January 2011. Ms Phumla Williams signed the approval of this payment notice, yet, in terms of the Financial Delegation of GCIS, she was not delegated to do so.”

Manyi told Independent Media that it was not true he only wanted to present his version against Williams’ but not surrender to cross-examination on Friday. 

“No, no, no. That was my position for Wednesday, November 14, 2018, because my appearance was specifically to respond to Ms Phumla Williams’ testimony plus my SMS to her as per the formal communication between the Commission and me.”

“It didn’t make sense that advocate Isaac Maleka wanted to postpone my appearance just to add a few questions unrelated to the original intention of my appearance.

“I am now done rebutting Ms Williams’ testimony, and already preparing for November 23, 2018. 

“I can confirm that I have received the questions today – November 15, 2018, five working days before my appearance, but will not leak them to the media nor will I seek a postponement.”

Manyi says he has no qualms about fielding questions from Advocate Maleka about The New Age Business Breakfasts.

He took over ownership of the Gupta-owned ANN7 television station and The New Age newspaper in a vendor-financing transaction. Both have since gone belly up.

“Not at all, it’s an obvious question that must be responded to. We must find the R600 million that Mr Themba Maseko spoke about.

“As his successor, I become a suspect by default, who many have already condemned as guilty even before affording me a right of reply.”

He adds: “I think this commission is a great opportunity for anyone interested to clear any misconception that may have been planted by Stratcom, together with the mainstream media.

“I am overwhelmed and encouraged by the positive feedback I got from my 14 November 2018 appearance.

The bar has been set.”

The Sunday Independent