Ramaphosa authorises SIU probe into water dept's deal with German software giant

President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the Department of Water and Sanitation over allegations of unlawful expenditure of public money, as well as irregularities in tenders awarded to the private sector. 

According to a statement by the Presidency on Thursday, the SIU has been mandated to investigate the procurement or contracting of information technology services from the German enterprise software company SAP.

"The SIU will look into allegations that the procurement of, or contracting for, information technology-related services from SAP had not been fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective, and that legislation, guidelines or policies had been flouted," the statement said. 

Additionally, the SIU will also investigate any improper or unlawful conduct by department or SAP personnel, or any other person or entity, which resulted in any losses, damage and actual or potential prejudice suffered by the department or the state.

"The investigation will focus on a period between January 2015 and the present, although unlawful or improper conduct prior to January 2015 that is deemed relevant to this matter will be taken into account."

The City Press reported in April this year that hundreds of thousands of people in Giyani, Limpopo, and 55 surrounding villages had gone without water because SAP in effect double-billed the water and sanitation department by hundreds of millions of rands.

READ: The big thirst hits Limpopo as R772m down the drain

The project, which was signed by the department under its former minister Nomvula Mokonyane in 2016, saw the state buying R950m in "unlimited" SAP software licences for itself, all nine water boards and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA). 

The R950m covered an upfront payment, annual renewal of licences and support and maintenance for the department, the water boards and the TCTA. The agreement was valid for five years. However, the water boards and the TCTA said they were contracted to different software companies and were paying their own licences, maintenance and support fees. Some however did use SAP. 

READ: How Mokonyane paved the way for a construction firm to earn billions

Ekurhuleni and eThekwini

The Presidency said that Ramaphosa had also authorised an SIU probe into the Ekurhuleni metro. This was in relation to alleged serious maladministration and unlawful conduct around the procurement of goods and services for the construction of the Vosloorus Hospital, and public transport facilities. 

"The SIU will investigate claims that procurement for these projects during a period around February 2014 had been unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful and that procurement had not been fair, competitive, equitable or cost-effective."

The SIU will also investigate the alleged irregular awarding of a tender – around January 2014 – for the supply to the municipality of waste recycling bags, by the eThekhwini metro.

The Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA) will also be investigated for alleged maladministration in relation to the allocation of discretionary grant funding to a number of companies which will themselves also be probed, the Presidency announced.