Thuli slams DA deal

2012-05-12 18:45

Western Cape government’s multimillion-rand communications contract declared ‘invalid’.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has declared the Western Cape government’s multimillion-rand communications contract “invalid” in a provisional report on her investigation into the issue.

Madonsela says Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s department should “immediately terminate the further execution” of its contract with TBWA/Hunt Lascaris.

The contract, signed in 2010, was for R1.5 million for “once-off deliverables” and is capped at a further R70 million a year for two years for “ongoing costs”.

It was awarded to help the ­provincial government develop a communications strategy and applied across all state departments.

The report, a copy of which City Press has seen, could still be changed by Madonsela. Zille’s ­department has hit back at the ­provisional report, saying Madonsela has not considered the “legal difficulties” and “adverse impact” of terminating the contract.

In its response, which will be submitted to Madonsela soon and which was forwarded to City Press, the Western Cape government said she should withdraw the recommendation to terminate the contract from her report.

Cancelling the contract would mean approaching the high court to nullify the process and set the contract aside on administrative law grounds, the provincial government said in its response.

In a legal opinion the province got from top advocate Geoff ­Budlender, he said approaching the high court would “not be prudent” because it was “unlikely that a court would set aside the contract at this stage given considerations of pragmatism, public interest and practicality”.

By the time the court had heard the matter, Budlender said, in his opinion the two-year contract would “in all probability have ­expired, resulting in wasted costs”.

The province also said the contract was not invalid, because it could be so only if it was “unlawful”.

It was not unlawful, the province insisted, because “neither it, nor the process, was contrary to any ­legally binding prescript”.

Madonsela investigated the matter after a complaint was laid by the Western Cape ANC in

Zille promised to resign if ­corruption was found.

Madonsela’s investigation also found:
» Then deputy director-general Brent Gerber’s appointment of Zille’s special advisers, chief ­strategist Ryan Coetzee and provincial communications head Nick Clelland-Stokes, who drafted the criteria for the tender, was ­“improper and unlawful”.

The ANC said in its complaint that Coetzee and Clelland-Stokes, as political appointees, should not have served on administrative tender committees.

» Zille’s department didn’t apply “proper demand management” to the tender process, meaning it didn’t plan properly, it didn’t apply relevant Treasury regulations, and it involved Zille’s special adviser, Coetzee.

» The lack of proper “demand management” resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

» The failure by the department to keep “proper minutes” of the proceedings of the bid evaluation committee constituted maladministration.

» Zille wasn’t involved in the awarding of the tender.

The province said Coetzee and Clelland-Stokes’s appointments were not unlawful, but even if it had been, Madonsela failed to show “how it detracted from the ­system”.

She also failed to recognise “that their involvement had no material effect whatsoever on the outcome of the process”, the province said.

The province said it agreed with Madonsela’s statement elsewhere in the report that “there was no suggestion” that Coetzee or ­Clelland-Stokes “acted improperly or tried to manipulate or influence the process in any manner”.

Still, their involvement “created a perception of political influence in the appointment of certain ­service providers”.

Madonsela noted Zille was ­sensitive to this because Zille told the media her special advisers would in future not be involved in appointing service providers.

The province said the fact that Coetzee scored another company higher than TBWA/Hunt Lascaris “demonstrates his independence in the process”.

The province admitted that some money was wasted, but it said the R8 696 Madonsela termed fruitless and wasted expenditure was a “small amount” needed to rectify a “bona fide” error in the advertisement of the first tender.

This money was spent in order to avoid more wasteful expenditure that would have occurred if the wording of the first tender wasn’t corrected, the province said.

The province also admitted to initial shortcomings, but said these were “identified ­early on and rectified through our own internal processes”.

It also blamed previous administrations for not following through on the “development and finalisation” of “branding and communications strategies” which it said had been identified “years ago”.

The province said it did not ­object to Madonsela’s recommendations that the skills, capacity, record-keeping and training in the supply chain management of Zille’s department should be improved, nor her contention in the report that Gerber should be disciplined.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.