Gauteng govt explains private legal bills

2011-05-30 19:13

Johannesburg - The Gauteng government confirmed on Monday that it was spending more on private lawyers than state lawyers, but denied a Democratic Alliance suggestion that this was because it did not trust its own counsel.

In response to questions tabled in the legislature by the DA, the Gauteng government said it had spent R7m on private attorneys for litigation and legal matters, and R6.5m on state attorneys.

"I believe that this is a vote of no confidence by the MEC in her own legal team and that the department should either employ more attorneys or outsource the entire legal section," said DA MPL Khume Ramulifho.

Education department spokesperson Charles Phahlane said that in accordance with the questions submitted, it had explained that the department employed private attorneys from a "Legal Body Shop of Attorneys" that was created through an open public tender process.

They use the following criteria to determine whether to engage private attorneys: the urgency of the matter; whether the matter requires independent handling and the nature and complexity of the matter.

"So you can see that there is no basis to conclude that we don’t trust state attorneys. This is a DA attempt to score cheap political points," said Phahlane by e-mail in response to a request for comment.

"In Gauteng, we are dealing with a system that has two million learners, 90 000 staff members and 2 300 schools. Obviously, when you are dealing with a system as big as this one, there will be a need to engage legal services."

He said all funds were budgeted for by the provincial government.

  • Grayman - 2011-05-30 19:33

    How the heck do you tender for legal representation? That is one of the most ridiculous notions I have come across. You employ the services of a legal person based on speciality, track record and competency not by going out to the lowest bidder (or the best tenderpreneur).

      ZAS - 2011-05-30 20:30

      There are "state lawyers"(read comrades) and there are lawyers who are experienced in the real world...

  • Anonymous Thinker - 2011-05-30 21:31

    I smell friends and family that are lawyers....uncles cousin twice removed most likely.

  • John - 2011-05-31 08:43

    This just proves they can not be trusted with public funds.

  • gail.hayesbean - 2012-07-24 16:08

    You know as a DA supporter, R500000 difference between the two is really not worth arguing about surely in the larger scheme of things. There are really more pressing issues like the R300 million wasted by civil servants and unaccounted for and qualified audits etc for municipalities which need to be focussed on. I personally feel that ministers who are incompetent or have committed fraud or continue using litigation and refusing to accept legal judgements should have to pay for their own litigzation from the word go out of their salaries which are not exactly small. Look at the Boeremag trial which has dragged on for 10 years and been the most expensive trial in SA history. Not to mention how ministers won't go quietly and have fully paid suspensions on top dollar. The money wasted on constant appeals would be better spent on improving educators salaries and traing those who require it so that this country does not become a nanny state like the UK and USA. Please DA focus on the real issues like those people on the Cape Flats who are flooded every year in the bitterly cold winters. Focus on whether that much litigation was necessary but to quibble over the amounts spent on private versus buddy attorneys is wasting our money.

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