Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu says a report by the inspector general on allegations against the Chief of Procurement, Mthobisi Zondi, is inconclusive.
“The preliminary report suggests that there is no prima facie case against Mr. Zondi,” her spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya said in a statement. “She however, will only make a definitive statement once she receives the final report. Only then will she be able share it with members of the [defence portfolio] committee.
Independent Newspapers last year reported links between Zondi, the Department of Defence’s Supply Chain Integration Division head and companies that won a R142 million asset management and stock verification contract as well as a R108 million deal to clear explosive remnants from two former defence force training areas.
Members of Parliament have been calling for urgent feedback on the matter. Committee on Public Accounts whip for the ruling African National Congress, Mandla Mbili, told the newspaper group earlier this month the department and Sisulu should return to the committee urgently with answers.
Democratic Alliance deputy defence spokesman James Lorimer made the same call for the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans,saying “senior defence officials are dragging their feet over making public documents that would shed light on [the] highly questionable tender…”
He adds the tenders are just some “of a number of suspicious contracts awarded by this department. The Portfolio Committee agreed to my request in November to ask Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to launch a probe into all military procurement that does not fall under Armscor. The minister has yet to answer that request.”
However, Mabaya, in a statement issued on behalf of Sisulu after Wednesday’s COPA meeting where Acting Secretary of Defence Tsepe Motumi received a severe drubbing from Mbili and defence portfolio chairman Mnyamezeli Booi, Sisulu said auditing firm KPMG was probing procurement, among other aspects, as part of her “turnaround strategy” for the DoD, announced in May last year.
Mabaya, in a recent statement said Sisulu was dismayed “that some members of parliament have been taken it upon themselves to issue false statements to the media. She referred to a media statement from the DA that suggests that she was asked to investigate allegations against Mr Zondi, which was not true. The same members have been telling media that the Minister has failed to appear before the parliamentary committees.
“The Minister want to put it on record that she takes parliament very serious and at all time she continue to make herself available to account and report back to parliament. Since her appointment at her own request she has appeared before parliament more than five times. The Minister will continue to work with the Committee to find lasting solutions to challenges within the DOD.”