Corruption inquiry into Government Printing Works gave Motsoaledi ‘sleepless nights’, parliament hears

12 July 2022 – Times Live

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi has told parliament he wants strong action taken against anyone found to be  responsible for sabotaging the Government Printing Works.

The minister was briefing parliament’s committee on home affairs on Tuesday on the investigation into the loss of financial data and curriculum vitae (CVs), as well as investigations by the Hawks into allegations of corruption at the organisation.

“It worried me a lot because it can hold the economy of the country to ransom. I was even more worried because I appeared before this committee to announce to you the foothold that we had started to gain on the African continent in the manner of servicing it.

It gave me sleepless nights because that is a national key point where security is very important. You wouldn’t like to have people who make things collapse deliberately, for whatever motive and so, it was worrying.

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, home affairs minister

“Namibia wants us to print important security documents for them and subsequent to my announcement about Namibia, Kenya came on board and at a high level. Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Uhuru Kenyatta, signed an agreement on behalf of the GPW for work that is going to be done,” said Motsoaledi.

“Since then many governments have come to the fore. Last week I had a meeting with the ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The amount of work they want us to do for the DRC is overwhelming.”

Motsoaledi said he asked himself if SA accepted offers made by these countries, “are we going to disappoint them, especially on security issues when they have put their trust in our hands, by virtue of some of the things that are happening there (GPW)?”

He said the matter had given him sleepless nights after the collapse of ICT systems at the GPW in February last year.

“There is a gentleman who has blown the whistle in an affidavit which was sent to the office of the speaker of parliament. He claimed that what happened there was not an accident, it is something that has been planned either by omission or by commission.”

Motsoaledi said the statement concerned him.

“It gave me sleepless nights because that is a national key point where security is very important. You wouldn’t like to have people who make things collapse deliberately, for whatever motive and so, it was worrying.”

Motsoaledi’s concerns grew when the legal profession was unable to finalise and execute estates because they could not get certain documents they needed.

This is the reason he approached President Ramaphosa to ask him to appoint an investigative tribunal into what was happening at the GPW.

Ramaphosa told him, that as a minister, he had “every right and power” to appoint such a tribunal or panel.

“That is why I chose to appoint the panel (which was initially chaired by advocate Mojankunyane Gumbi). The panel was to inspect the loss of data. Members of the committee were told when they were there, that there was a power surge (which damaged infrastructure) which they were supposed to investigate.”

The panel is now chaired by Papati Malavi.

Motsoaledi wants investigators to probe whether the lost data can be recovered and if so, how.

“They were also meant to look at security. The committee was told by the GPW about applications for jobs and CVs that were stolen. It will be discouraging for South Africans to apply for jobs, only to find that their CVs are selectively stolen.”

Motsoaledi said he too would not feel safe if he applied for a job at that institution.

Investigators were meant to come up with recommendations and consequence management.

“The most important recommendation was the issue of ICT governance, digital transformation and the corporate and physical governance of the whole institution by virtue of serving the countries I have mentioned.

“I wanted strong recommendations, so that when I come to you to boast about the number of countries that are using GPW, I am reassured there are no misdemeanours that will happen,” he said.

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