Look at the context – Zille

2012-06-01 13:44

The so-called “fruitless and wasteful” R8 696 spent on re-advertising a branding contract should be seen in context, Western Cape premier Helen Zille said.

“We disagree [with the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela] that this constituted fruitless and wasteful expenditure, because it must be seen relative to the cost of not re-advertising and potentially compromising the process further,” she said today.

“To put this amount into perspective, it is about the same we spent flying officials to the public protector’s media briefing in Pretoria this morning.”

Zille was briefing reporters in Cape Town after Madonsela said there was no evidence of unlawfulness in the premier’s office awarding a branding contract to advertising agency TBWA.

Madonsela was asked by, among others, the ANC in the Western Cape to investigate whether the provincial premier’s department had employed proper demand side management regarding procurement of the contract.

She had to find out whether failure to do so had resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, whether the department had kept proper records of proceedings of the bid evaluation committee, and whether the appointment of two special advisers to the committee to award the contract was legal.

She made four findings of maladministration but none of unlawfulness, which meant she would not recommend that the contract was invalid or should be cancelled.

One of these findings was that the department had failed to employ proper demand management processes and had wasted more than R8 000 in public money when it advertised the tender for the branding contract twice because of this.

The tender referred to in the report was advertised, contrary to allegations, she found.

Zille said the report found no corruption and political involvement, interference or manipulation in the procurement process. She was also not personally involved in the process.

She said it was found that the presence of two special advisers on the tender bid evaluation committee had made no difference to the outcome.

Madonsela found that some administrative processes in managing transversal tenders, those which involved various government departments and strict Treasury regulations, were faulty.

Zille said the provincial treasury had picked up these faults long beforehand and steps were taken to rectify them.

The premier said the time and money spent on investigating the tender amounted to hundreds of thousands of rands, which could better have been spent on service delivery.

“The entire exercise was a storm in a teacup stirred up by our political opponents.”

ANC Western Cape secretary Songezo Mjongile, one of the complainants, said he was disappointed by the report.

“We feel there are substantial issues that have been watered down.”

The ANC would take the report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in Parliament, and possibly take legal action.

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