Former Free State MEC of Corporate Government and Human Settlements Mosebenzi Zwane had to answer to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and Advocate Paul Pretorius on Friday 25 September at the State Capture Commission. Zwane, who had to account for irregularities regarding a R1 billion housing project in the province, said he was unaware of many things, including the Housing Act.
OFFICIALS SUGGESTED DATABASE
During the inquiry, Zwane claimed that he didn’t see any red flags, so to speak, regarding tender processes. Zwane admitted to approving a newly created database regarding the selection of contractors who were involved in the housing project.
“A tender process was opened and later abandoned because of the deadline and other things. Note that it was not caused by me”. He said he was advised by senior staffers in his department that abandoning the process was legal.
“It is them (officials) that suggested that throughout the years the database has been used in the department by my predecessors and as a new newcomer, I agreed with that process for as long as it was going to help us move forward building houses,” said Zwane.
Zwane said EXCO was only told of the database selection after the abandonment of the open tender process.
ZWANE CLAIMS TO BE UNAWARE OF HOUSING ACT
Zondo asked Zwane why he didn’t raise any questions when he was told that an open tender process would no longer be used.
“Were you told what was the reason that the open tender process was being abandoned or collapsed?” asked Zondo. Zwane replied saying he was told that its period had expired.
“They told you it was perfectly in order to just create a database at the discretion of officials without going through a formal tender process before construction contracts were awarded and you believed them?” asked Pretorious.
Zwane alleged that officials told him a database had been used over the years, long before he arrived. He said he was assured by officials that it was lawful. When asked if he checked if it was lawful, he said; “No, I didn’t check it Chair”.
“Mr Mosebenzi Zwane admits before the commission that nobody drew his attention to the existence of the Housing Act,” the State Capture Commission said on Friday. Zondo raised concerns about Zwane, who for years, did not know there was a Housing Act which applied to his duty.
The Commission adjourned for the week. Zwane is set to return and continue with his evidence on Tuesday 29 September 2020 at 14:00.
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