‘Blaming others will not cut it’

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has warned ministers and MECs that they could no longer hide behind the notion that they do not know the law when irregularities are uncovered in the tenders of their institutions.

The watchdog, which was set up in terms of the constitution, said this week it had observed that in many instances where irregularities occurred in public administration, the employees involved allege that they acted on unlawful instructions from executive authorities or senior managers.

The warning is contained in a circular sent to all executive authorities, heads of national and provincial departments and government components

PSC chairperson Richard Sizani reminded elected leaders and senior public servants of the legislation that empowers them to report irregularities in procurement to relevant authorities.

He said employees had several acts and regulations to report irregularities in contracts to a senior manager, act as a whistleblower, or to approach the policies or oversight bodies including the PSC and the public protector.

For their part, members of the executive could take disciplinary action against a head of department who doesn’t comply with the Public Service Act and report them to the minister of public service and administration.

“The evidence emerging from the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture has shown how some senior leaders and businesses were able to act with impunity,” Sizani said.

“Even more distressing is how senior officials who have been in cahoots with businesses have looted the state in the pro- curement of personal protective equipment during COVID-19,” he added.

Last week, former Free State human settlement MEC Mosebenzi Zwane spent much of his testimony at the Zondo Commission blaming officials in the department for a R1-billion housing project described as “irregular” and “fraudulent”.

Sizani said laying the blame on officials would not cut it.

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