Cipro’s IT provider accused of tender tricks

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Waymark Infotech, which won an R11 million tender to maintain information technology (IT) services to the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro), stands accused of gaining it irregularly, by the company that was axed by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

Cipro, which processes and holds on file the registration of companies and relevant information such as the directors, has been dogged with problems relating to its IT system for two years. This led in July last year to the sacking of Valor it by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Dozens of companies were hijacked last year when directorships were falsely changed, and about a dozen have suffered the same fate so far this year. The most prominent case last year was the hijacking of Kalahari Resources, whose original directors were ultimately restored to their posts.

Now Valor it, which has argued all along that Davies had said it was doing a good job on the Cipro IT system, has released information which it says shows that even Cipro’s own legal officers supported the retention of its services and warned against bringing in a new company.

Josias Molele, the chairman of Valor it, said any tender over R500 000 was subject to rigorous controls before it was granted. He accused Waymark of avoiding these hurdles.

He released an internal memo of Cipro’s information and communication technology division in September last year, indicating that the legal support and co-ordination unit warned its management not to step on the toes of Valor it.

The report, signed by Janine van Zyl, said “taking into consideration that litigation between dti and Valor it is still ongoing… and the immense bad publicity Cipro/dti can incur if we put one foot wrong in letting any service provider do anything that relates to the duties allocated to Valor it”, Cipro chief executive and dti legal adviser Johan Strydom should be informed “about the need to maintain its current systems”. Van Zyl also expressed concern that it might contravene “any duties” allocated to Valor it.

Questions put to Waymark director Joel Mpshe were not answered by the time of going to press.

Cipro spokeswoman Elsabe Conradie said the documents were outdated. “The current engagement with Waymark is merely for support and maintenance of the systems (for) which Valor it never had a mandate on its ECM (enterprise content management) tender.

“It is important to understand that whilst the court process is ongoing, Cipro has a responsibility to fulfil its operational mandate”

Last year Valor it took Cipro and the dti to court demanding compensation for cutting short its R150 million tender granted in 2008. It claims that the department’s lawyers agreed to a settlement of about R28m, but subsequently reneged on that.

Now, in a letter from the office of the state attorney in Pretoria to Valor it’s lawyers, Noko Incorporated, also of Pretoria, the dti claimed there was never an agreement to pay Valor it and the deal was always subject to the approval of the minister and director-general.

When Valor it was not paid – it believed it should have been paid R28 million within 15 days of November 25 when the North Gauteng High Court ruled that a settlement should be sought by the parties – it went back to court.

The state attorney’s office said that it was its considered view that Valor it’s threat to launch further urgent court proceedings “is rather unfortunate and misplaced. This is tantamount to approaching the court for advice. It is not the function of the court to advise parties before it.”

The state attorney’s office said it was confident “that you will reconsider your position as such a step will not only be vigilantly opposed but would certainly warrant a negative costs order which we will certainly exhort the court to grant against Valor it and its legal representatives”. - Donwald Pressly


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