Knives are out for axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan over a failed R1billion IT project. File Image

Cape Town - Cabinet on Friday called for any deliberate wrongdoing in the development of government's Integrated Financial Management System to be punished.

The call flowed from Cabinet's regular fortnightly meeting and followed a week of intense politicking over audit weaknesses identified in the project, which began 15 years ago and carries an estimated cost of R4.3 billion.

National Treasury sources said this week that a forensic investigation by audit firm Deloitte, commissioned in 2016 by former finance director-general Lungisa Fuzile, found no deliberate wrongdoing. Instead, it is understood to ascribe some of the lapses in financial controls to understaffing.

The Deloitte report, which has not been released, was rejected by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba as "shoddy" and Zuma loyalists within the ruling party have demanded further investigation, in what is seen as an attempt to discredit his predecessor Pravin Gordhan.

"Cabinet notes that National Treasury is overseeing a forensic investigation into alleged irregularities in the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) programme," the Cabinet statement read.

"Cabinet commends National Treasury for its robust internal audit controls, which identified irregular expenditure. It trusts that the appropriate lessons will be learned with respect to the challenges experienced, and any deliberate wrongdoing or negligence will be identified and the parties held accountable."

It went on to express full confidence in the treasury and its custodianship of public finances.

Fuzile's successor, Dondo Mogajane, this week told MPs that he ordered all spending on the IFMS project to be suspended, and also pointed to the fact that the unit running the project had a staff complement of five people.

Members of Parliament voiced dismay that the programme has yet to yield a viable integrated payment system for the public service. A total of R1.2 billion was spent on developing bespoke technology for the system, but that was binned in 2013 after the World Bank advised that it was not the most suitable model.