Dali Tambo bust by Parliament

Johannesburg - A damning internal legal opinion has found that Dali Tambo’s company may have overcharged Parliament for the bust of Nelson Mandela that stands outside the National Assembly, City Press reports.

The legal opinion also suggests that the spending on the bust should be declared irregular. But Parliament is disputing its own legal opinion and insists the money spent was neither irregular nor wasteful.

Tambo on Saturday threatened to sue City Press if the paper published anything “untrue” about the tender, and insisted everything was above board.

City Press is in possession of documents that show Tambo’s company, Koketso Growth, submitted a “preliminary proposal and costing” document to Parliament on 13 February. In it, the company estimates the cost of the bust at R1.8m. But it adds a “management and handling fee” of 20% and VAT at 14% – which together increase the amount to R2.5m.

But a practising sculptor told City Press after reviewing the Madiba bust that a sculpture of that size and form should have cost between R750 000 and R1m to make and install.

Koketso Growth set a payment schedule for Parliament – a 30% deposit payable four days after submission of the proposal, plus a 50% interim payment due before work began.

A week later, Parliament’s deputy secretary Baby Tyawa submitted a request to former Speaker Max Sisulu and former national council of provinces chairperson Mninwa Mahlangu to approve the payment. In the request, Tyawa estimates the bust’s cost at R1.8m. The proposal was also signed off by late parliamentary secretary Mike Coetzee.

On 14 March, Tyawa submitted a final request for authorisation to Sisulu and Mahlangu, but the amount for the bust had shot up by R785 000 to R2.5m. On the day authorisation was granted, Parliament paid just more than R2m to Koketso Growth.

Parliament then sought its own internal legal opinion on the expenditure and its unnamed legal adviser questioned why the initial approval for funds was sought for R1.8m when Koketso Growth previously indicated the bust would cost R2.5m.

This, according to the legal adviser, meant Parliament did not pay a market-related price for the sculpture. “Any amount paid that is more than the market-related price may be considered fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” reads the legal opinion.

The contract entered into with Tambo contravened Parliament’s own supply chain management policy, the legal adviser wrote.

In its response last week, Parliament supplied City Press with a document Coetzee wrote in May in which he disputes the internal legal opinion and insists the money spent on the bust was not irregular or wasteful. Parliament spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs said the initial cost estimate of R1.8m was based on a bust that would have been erected inside the Parliamentary building.

He said it was later decided to place the bust outside, which affected the cost.

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