IEC office lease flawed: Treasury

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iol news pic IEC Pansy Tlakula

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Chairperson of the IEC Pansy Tlakula File photo: Etienne Creux

Johannesburg - The procurement process by the IEC in acquiring its office park was not fair, transparent or cost-effective, a report by the Treasury indicated on Tuesday.

“Adv Pansy Tlakula as the chief electoral officer (CEO) and accounting officer, Mr Du Plessis as the deputy CEO corporate services, and Mr Langtry as manager in the office of the CEO should each be held responsible for the roles they played that resulted in a procurement process being followed that was not fair, equitable, transparent, competitive or cost effective,” reads the report.

Tlakula was CEO at the time the complaint was lodged.

The forensic investigation was done by auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the Treasury on the procurement of the IEC's Riverside Office Park building in Centurion, Pretoria.

This follows a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, released in August 2013, which found Tlakula had played a “grossly irregular” role in procuring the premises. Madonsela recommended that a forensic investigation be launched into the lease agreement.

Tlakula blasted Madonsela's report, which she said contained “factual errors.”

The complaint against Tlakula to Madonsela was lodged by United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa.

Holomisa alleged there were irregularities in the procurement of the premises from Abland.

Further allegations were made relating to an alleged conflict of interest between Tlakula and Thaba Mufamadi, chairperson of Manaka Property Investments, who is alleged to own a 20 percent share in Abland’s development at Riverside Office Park, by virtue of their co-directorships in Lehotsa Investments.

Abland won the IEC bid.

The Treasury report finds that Tlakula did not give guidance or formally inform various persons what was expected of them in the process.

“The process that was then followed was also not in terms of the requirements of the PFMA and Treasury regulations,” reads the report.

“There were numerous errors made in the process that has resulted in Abland being favoured at the expense of other bidders and in Abland being favoured at the expense of the IEC.”

The report also found that :

* The advertisement setting out the building and lease requirements was inadequate.

* There was no tender briefing and no detailed tender specification document issued.

* The normal bid evaluation process was not followed and the bid evaluation was done by the executive committee.

* The summary of the 10 bids prepared by and presented to the committee by the manager in the office of the CEO for evaluation, contained numerous errors.

* During an executive committee meeting on 19 June 2009, when the short-listed bidders made presentations, the bid evaluation criteria were changed, to the benefit of Abland, without the non short-listed bidders being afforded the same opportunity.

* The lease agreement was signed on 21 August 2009, by the CEO, even though the tax clearance certificates for two of the five members of the Abland consortium are dated after this.

* The acquisition of moveable items, for R59 918 380, via Abland as part of a turnkey solution, were not tendered to the open market even though this is what Abland originally proposed.

* The budget for moveable items continually increased as the IEC management changed their requirements for fitting and furnishing the building.

* The rental being charged by Abland is not a fair market rental.

The investigation also found that too much space was being leased, set to cost the IEC R20 million more over the 10 year lease term.

Sapa


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