The Gauteng Department of Treasury negligently paid Microsoft $20 million or R287 million instead of R20 million, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.
In a statement on Tuesday, the DA’s Gauteng shadow MEC for finance and e-government, Adriana Randall, said the Gauteng Department of Treasury has lost R6.8 million of taxpayers’ money, which could have bought the country 48 000 Johnson and Johnson vaccines and protected many innocent lives from COVID-19.
“Provincial Treasury erroneously processed an amount of $20 913 793.81 instead of the rand value of R20 913 793.81 as per e-Government payment advice, for the cost of Microsoft fees. This resulted in a debit amount of R 318 307 941.79 from the e-Government bank account,” said Randall.
“This money that was lost could have also gone a long way to improving the efficiency of the Gauteng Broadband Network which will assist our residents who are seeking job opportunities and connecting our people to government.”
Randall further wrote that according to the MEC for Finance and e-Government, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, the amount to be paid to Microsoft Ireland was R20 913 793.81. The Department submitted the payment advice to Provincial Treasury, Cash Book and Services for processing.
“After the error was made, e-Government requested Provincial Treasury to recall the full amount of R318 307 941.79 from Microsoft. The money was successfully recalled in February 2021, with an amount of R 311 464 203.81, resulting in a shortfall of R6 843 737.90 because of the exchange rate,” said Randall.
“The lost millions could have bought roughly 48 046 Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccines which were last priced at $10 (R142.44) per dose according to the Minister of Health in April.”
She added: “While the DA welcomes the investigation into this forex transaction, we believe that stronger action should have been taken and the official responsible for this should have been suspended immediately and the money recouped from the official.
“Consequence management is the only way in which errors like these will not happen and will send a strong message to any government official that is involved in negligence as seen at the e-Government department.
“Our residents in Gauteng deserve a government that holds officials and MECs to account when it comes to how our taxpayers’ money is spent now more than ever given the current Covid-19 pandemic.
“The DA will not rest until this money is recovered for the benefit of the residents of Gauteng and the implicated officials are charged. Serious negligence deserves serious consequences, especially when lost money could have been used to save lives and livelihoods.”