#StateCaptureInquiry: Manyi tried to influence my testimony – Phumla Williams

Former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO Jimmy Manyi could be summoned to the judicial commission of inquiry on state capture.

Manyi sent a text message to acting CEO Phumla Williams while she was giving evidence on Friday.

Williams had implicated Manyi, telling the inquiry that he had irregularly changed the tender processes at the GCIS, placing all final decisions under him.

Manyi replaced Themba Maseko in 2011.

Maseko was fired after he defied an instruction by former president Jacob Zuma to "help" the Guptas, who were demanding that GCIS media spend be channelled to the New Age.

Williams had told the commission that a bid adjudication committee, which had final say on all tenders, had been set up by Manyi's predecessors.  

However, months after his controversial appointment, Manyi removed all incumbents in the committee and directed that all final decisions be made by him.

CFO excluded from bid adjudication committee

Williams told the commission the new members were not trained in government procurement regulations and the Public Finance and Management Act.

She said the committee composition also violated Treasury regulations as the chief financial officer was excluded.

Williams said Manyi had hired junior officials, including individuals he brought from the labour department to the GCIS.

READ: #StateCaptureInquiry: Guptas were surprised how easy it was to get cash from government – Maseko

She also told the commission that Manyi changed the reporting lines of the media buying unit, placing it directly under him.

The GCIS handled a R600m media buying budget on behalf of national departments.

The commission heard that at least R50m was spent on The New Age/SABC breakfasts that hosted ministers and heads of state-owned entities.

Procurement team 'bullied'

Williams told the commission that it was only after she was interviewed by the Hawks that she learnt that the GCIS had paid money toward the breakfasts.

She discovered that the procurement team was "bullied" into processing the payments as they disagreed that the breakfasts amounted to advertising.  

"TNA/SABC breakfasts were not part of GCIS delegations....[the] procurement team had said they must be put out to tender so that all media houses can compete," she said,

After a tea break, Williams told the commission she had received a text message from Manyi who was trying to "influence" her testimony.

"I got a text message from Manyi who is saying that I must say the TNA breakfasts did not happen in his time. It is my view that he is trying to influence my submission," Williams said.

An alarmed Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked that the text be forwarded to the commission's legal and investigations team.

'It happened after my era'

"The protection of witnesses is very important," he said.

"I have called for ministers and former directors general to come forward in the past, if those who heed this call are intimidated the commission needs to look into that seriously," he said.

The legal team said Zondo had powers to summon witnesses.

Manyi explained his text message in a Twitter post: "Just so it's clear. Phumla was relating changes I brought into GCIS. In the same breath mentions TNA/SABC breakfast which in my view created the impression that I was somehow part of that. So I sent a text for her to clarify that this happened AFTER my era."

By Friday Manyi was yet to apply to the commission to cross-examine Williams. She is expected to continue with her testimony on Monday.

Williams detailed how hours after Maseko exited the building following his shock firing, Manyi arrived in his office and demanded a staff meeting to announce himself as director general.