Operation clean-up to root out corruption at SITA - CEO

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 06 Dec 2017
SITA CEO Setumo Mohapi.
SITA CEO Setumo Mohapi.

The State IT Agency (SITA) has embarked on a clean-up exercise to root out corruption within the organisation and create a new company that everybody wants to see, said CEO Setumo Mohapi in an interview for ITWeb.

Mohapi, now SITA's second longest serving CEO, admitted to the legacy issues and bad practices that have created the negative public perception about the agency, but pointed out that government's procurement arm continues to work on its issues.

The perceptions about SITA are created from a certain reality and we are dealing with that reality in terms of the clean-up, he said. "When I came into organisation I knew that my job is not only to rebuild SITA but to do so from a clean slate. We are cleaning up the agency and the people that are affected know that we are cleaning."

In 2015, Mohapi became the 18th person to take on the role of CEO at SITA. Before the end of his first year at the state agency, an internal process to investigate two areas within the organisation, namely human resources and supply chain management (SCM) was established.

We are cleaning up the agency and the people that are affected know that we are cleaning.

According to him, the investigation proceedings, which are based on internal control risk reports and internal audits, have resulted in employee dismissals as well as resignations within the agency.

"In SCM 30 people are gone and in our HR environment 15 people have already left. We are still not done with supply chain because we are finishing some of the matters this month; we will be closing this phase of the investigation in supply chain management in December."

We will continue looking for areas of weakness in the organisation - this is an ongoing process, Mohapi added.

SCOPA probes

While SITA continues its clean-up exercise, the agency was recently in the spotlight when it had to report to Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) about a contract involving the South African Police Service (SAPS) that was flagged for "irregular and wasteful expenditure".

Last week, Scopa met with the management of the SAPS, SITA and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to debate the contract.

The briefing to the Parliament committee followed a forensic investigation into SAPS business with Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) and its owner, Keith Keating, to determine alleged corruption in the procurement process to appoint the company to maintain products bought by the SAPS.

According to a Scopa, the FDA contracts include the maintenance and technical support of the Firearms Permit Systems and the supply of forensic equipment to SAPS. R919.3 million has been paid to FDA since 2012.

There is nothing worse than trying to build an organisation while someone is chipping away at the foundation.

Responding to questions about the meeting, Mohapi said the case of the contract that Scopa was interested in also popped up during the course of SITA's investigations.

He explained: "The concerns that were raised are the same concerns that we have picked up. First of all, there was an appreciation of the work that we've done in terms of cleaning up SITA - there is also a sense that we are all headed in the same direction. They said that there is a place for us should we have any problems as a result of this investigation that is a place for us to get support - notwithstanding the fact that it is fairly difficult situation.

"From my side, I felt good about what we are doing. We are doing the right things, we have always been doing the right things and we have the support to continue of cleaning up our environment."

The advice from the MPs is that SITA terminates the contract, he stated. "We agree, understand and it was always our intention to mitigate where we have found, in this particular case, that there were issues."

"We appreciate the guidance and the thoroughness of Scopa to interrogate these matters", he pointed out, stressing that SITA is a very important institution and it must work with integrity.

"As I've said, there is nothing worse than trying to build an organisation while someone is chipping away at the foundation. We are in the middle of a massive job here of cleaning and building at the same time. We are strong and will continue to do the work."