051110. Polokwane in Limpopo Province. Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale arrives for The Limpopo Provincial Government Budget Lekgotla that took place on 04 and 05 November 2010. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko


LIMPOPO Premier Cassel Mathale’s office has exempted officials who award tenders from any investigation into allegations of corruption, improper conduct and failure to comply with supply chain management rules.

The office’s internal supply chain policy also does not provide for steps to be taken in case the allegations are justified, including the laying of criminal complaints with the police.

Contrary to national Treasury regulations, Mathale’s policy does not require officials to disclose any conflict of interest or at least withdraw from the process to award the contracts in case they are conflicted.

In addition, it makes no provision for the cancellation of a contract awarded if a supplier committed corruption or fraud, or benefited from such acts.

In his latest report, Auditor- General Terrence Nombembe slammed the policy as “not in line with the Treasury regulations”.

The Premier’s Office’s 2011/12 financial year audit report has yet to be made public. The Star Africa obtained a copy recently.

Tebatso Mabitsela, Limpopo government spokesman, said yesterday that they would comment only after obtaining the official report.

“We are looking forward to receiving the report. We will familiarise ourselves with the contents and respond to all the queries you have raised,” Mabitsela said.

Nombembe noted that the policy did not provide for the rejection of a bid from any supplier who failed to provide proof from Sars that they either had no outstanding tax obligations or had made arrangements to meet them.

Ironically, the policy entertains bids from companies or directors that had abused the supply chain management system.

It also welcomes bids from companies or directors that failed to perform on previous contracts.

Despite the National Treasury’s Practice Note No 08 of 2007/08 requiring that accounting officers seek and accept three quotations for contracts of below R500 000, the premier’s office awarded three tenders worth a total of R259 000 through a one-quotation system.

The office paid Ultimate Heli R79 000 to charter a flight to ferry Mathale from Polokwane to Sibasa, Mtiti and Ha-Mahuma near Thohoyandou.

African Dream was awarded a contract worth R16 000 to provide a marquee in Moutse, while Concorde Travel walked away with R19 000 for making travel arrangements for three officials to fly betwenn OR Tambo and Cape Town.

Nombembe further noted that Mathale’s recently appointed media liaison officer, Mashadi Mathosa, “did not disclose her financial interest”.

Mathosa yesterday insisted she did nothing wrong and blamed the human resources department: “They didn’t say I did not declare, they said I did not submit my declaration on time. They sorted it out at HR. It was a matter of how they file their things.”

Nombembe also found that the premier’s office disregarded its own selection criteria when it appointed Thobeka MY as an anti-poverty strategy manager, because she did not meet the requirements.

A general manager, Mr Tema, was paid R2 400 for acting in another position for eight days.

In terms of the public service and administration department’s regulations, officials can only be paid after acting for longer than six weeks.

Another employee, a certain PC Rammutla, was allowed to go on leave on several occasions before the application for leave was approved.

The report comes in the wake of ongoing investigations by law enforcement agencies into allegations of tender corruption, fraud, nepotism and irregularities in Limpopo.

The police’s elite crime-busting unit, the Hawks, the special investigating unit and the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, moved in late last year following a public outcry.

The probes have implicated several businessmen close to Mathale and his ally, expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, in the looting of Limpopo’s multimillion-rand tenders to fund a lavish lifestyle and dispense political patronage.

Most lucrative tenders awarded by the Mathale administration are perceived to have been issued irregularly, or to cronies, a charge Mathale has repeatedly dismissed as unfounded.

Forensic auditors recently found evidence of tender corruption, fraud and irregularities, particularly in the provincial Education Department.

Tender corruption, fraud and maladministration have been blamed for Limpopo’s crippling R2,2 billion cash flow crisis late last year.

The crisis resulted in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan placing five key Limpopo departments under administration in December.

Some of Mathale and Malema’s business partners appeared before a secret judicial inquiry for suspected tax evasion held in Pretoria two months ago.