SITA’s procurement capacity in need of reform

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 13 May 2024
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the presentation of the 30-Year Review of South Africa’s Democracy report.
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the presentation of the 30-Year Review of South Africa’s Democracy report.

As South Africa works towards Vision 2030 as envisaged in the National Development Plan, the state needs to prioritise the reform of the public procurement system.

This includes reviews of the procurement mandates and capacity of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).

This is one of the highlights in the 30-Year Review of South Africa’s Democracy report, launched last week in the presence of president Cyril Ramaphosa.

The review provides an overview of the years between 1994 and 2024, reflecting on the political, social and economic journey of SA’s transformation. It also seeks to serve as a guide for the work government still needs to undertake to build a united, free and equal society.

It builds on the previous 10-, 15-, 20- and 25-year reviews produced by the Presidency and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). It should be read alongside existing reports and publications, such as the South African National Census of 2022 and the 10-Year Review of the NDP, according to the DPME.

Under the lessons towards Vision 2030, the report indicates the public procurement system requires reforms.

This, it notes, should be done through the Public Procurement Bill, including reviews of SITA’s procurement capacity, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, and amendments that support local procurement and are appropriate for the infrastructure delivery pipeline.

“Reform of SOEs [state-owned enterprises] also need to be fast-tracked to improve their contribution towards government’s development goals and reduce their dependence on the fiscus. This includes finalising the State Enterprise Bill and its implementation, to enhance the governance and developmental impact of SOEs.”

Government IT procurement arm SITA’s processes have long been criticised, with former CEO Dr Setumo Mohapi previously describing large-scale corruption uncovered in supply chain management and human capital management as destroying the soul and essence of SITA.

The manual processes have been an ongoing challenge for the government IT procurement arm. In 2021, SITA told ITWeb it would focus on its electronic document management system, to improve internal controls and accountability in the implementation of procurement processes.

The issues were thrust into the spotlight once again earlier this year, when the skills and systems within SITA’s procurement ambit were found to be wanting, resulting in prolonged delays and backlogs.

A ministerial task team determined the absence of an electronic procurement system affected efficiency and led to unnecessary errors and mistakes. It also noted that some tenders would be cancelled, despite a long-drawn-out process of going through various committees.

Overall, SA’s score on the international Corruption Perception Index was 41/100 in 2023. The country’s score wavered between 42 and 45 from 2012 to 2021. It regressed from 50+ scores in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to the report.

Furthermore, revelations by the State Capture Commission and grey-listing by the Financial Action Task Force in February 2023 implied a need for an intensive fight against corruption, the report highlights.

“Several measures in place include the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council overseeing the whole-of-society National Anti-Corruption Strategy, the Public Procurement Bill proposing more robust anti-corruption measures, the national anti-corruption hotline overseen by the Public Service Commission, as well as whistle-blower legislation and protection.”