South Africa

Zwane was ‘unaware’ of requirements of his job as MEC, Zondo commission hears

Giving his testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Friday, former Free State human settlements MEC Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane claimed that he was unaware of the that the Housing Act specified the duties of his then-position in the R1 billion Free State housing project scandal.

Two witnesses claimed this week that Zwane had devised the unlawful appointments made in a 2010-2011 housing scheme, while he was still MEC.

Earlier this week, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, raised concerns that no person had been charged or arrested in connection with the “irregular” and “fraudulent” housing project after nearly 10 years.

The total allocation for the housing project in the Free State was R1.42 billion and the plan was to build over 21,000 low cost housing units, but that was not achieved.

ALSO READ: Zwane tells Zondo that R1bn Free State housing project was ‘not an open tender system’

Zwane told the commission that he was advised by the head of department (HOD) that according to the Housing Act, the MEC was responsible for the selection of the contractors.

Adv Pretorious took Zwane through the Act, and noted the requirement which says an MEC needs to appoint a panel of 6 people to advise on housing projects. Zwane said he was not aware of this requirement. He also apparently never read the Act, but did read the Public Finance Management Act, assuming this would cover him.

The former MEC told the commission that ExCo was aware that the open tender system collapsed and the department of human settlements was putting together a database of contractors.

This comes after Zwane revealed that he approved a newly created database in 2010, for the selection of the contractors involved in the housing project earlier during his testimony.

Zwane had, however, disputed that he had control over the process.

He said that the new database was not an open tender system and said the database was requested by the provincial ExCo, which was chaired by African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who is the former Free State premier.

The former MEC said during an ExCo meeting in 2010, it was discussed that the final list of contractors should include woman and disabled contractors.

READ MORE: Zondo frustrated by evidence of failed Free State projects

This highlights an application that was brought forward by the Free State department of human settlement, requesting that the Bloemfontein High Court review and set aside 106 building contracts.

In the court documents, human settlement department HOD Nthimotse Mokhesi had previously said his department made payments to contractors and suppliers without any written agreement or proof that houses had been built or partially built.

Meanwhile, Zwane also disputed former HOD Mpho Mokoena’s claims that he threatened to fire him if he did not sign off the housing project documents despite knowing that there were irregularities.

Follow the live proceedings below:

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

Football news:

Mbappe is wary of extending his contract with PSG without being able to leave the club
Lucescu says that it was he who first put Pirlo on the field in 1998. This is not quite true
Bruno on the penalty miss: I'm human, it happens. Next goal for sure
Neymar wants to extend his contract with PSG, but the club has not yet started negotiations. The player's entourage is upset about this
Referee Oliver is appointed for the Bayern - Atletico match in the Champions League. He worked on the game Everton - Liverpool
Ex-judge Halsey: I'm surprised Pickford didn't get a red card. He put van Dijk's health at risk
Ander Herrera: I didn't feel love from Manchester United. The management and I had different views