Western Cape tender proper, says ad agency

2011-08-15 13:33

Advertising agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris has rejected as “completely untrue” a report that it was improperly awarded a multimillion-rand tender by the Western Cape government.

The report in the Sunday Times was also “factually inaccurate”, it said in a statement today.

“We have incredibly high standards and ethics, as well as strict corporate governance rules. We value our good reputation above anything else and will immediately walk away from any tendering process even if there is just a whiff of impropriety or corruption,” CEO Derek Bouwer said.

The Sunday Times reported that a contract was awarded to TBWA Hunt Lascaris to take over communications of 10 government departments in the province.

According to the report, the tender was not publicly advertised or placed on the government tender bulletin, as is required by Treasury regulations.

It also reported that the tender was worth R1 billion.

Bouwer said the Sunday Times was wrong in claiming the tender was worth R1-billion, the account which had been running since November last year, was in fact worth between R50 million and R70 million.

“We find it disconcerting that the newspaper claimed that proper procedures were not followed in awarding the account – that is completely untrue.

“Furthermore, they were factually inaccurate in recording the value of the account,” he said.

Earlier today, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said there was “absolutely no truth” in the suggestion that there was anything improper or unprocedural in awarding the tender.

“Questions must be asked why the Sunday Times chose deliberately not to present the facts as presented to them. We will be laying a formal complaint with the Press Ombudsman,” she said in a statement.

Zille said the newspaper had been made aware the tender was advertised.

“Not only did we confirm to the journalist that the tender was advertised in Die Burger and the Cape Argus, we sent the journalist a scan of the actual advert that appeared in print,” she said.

She said the R1 billion price tag the newspaper placed on the tender was an “absolute fabrication”.

“It was made clear to the journalist that the estimated total communications spend of the provincial government is between R50 million and R70 million per year.”

A bid adjudication committee, which included officials from legal services, had not received disputes from participating bidders and there were no irregularities, Zille said.

Nobody involved in either the bid specification or bid evaluation committees were members of the bid adjudication committee that made the final decision to award the contract, she said.

“I am confident that the bidding process was transparent, fair, equitable, competitive and cost effective.

“The Western Cape government has nothing to hide and will give the auditor general full access to any documentation or officials required for his investigation,” she said.

Zille said she has asked the director-general to request that the Auditor-General conduct a tender process audit.

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