Premier Helen Zille has described as “fruitful” her meeting with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela over findings in a draft report into the government communications contract awarded to advertising agency TBWA/Hunt Lascaris.
Zille personally presented the Western Cape government’s response to Madonsela at the Public Protector’s offices in the Cape Town city centre on Thursday.
The meeting came a week after a draft report, signed off by Madonsela, was leaked to the media.
The leaked provisional report suggests that the multimillion-rand tender awarded in 2010 to centralise communications was invalid.
Madonsela also found the involvement of Zille’s aides, Ryan Coetzee and Gavin Davis, in the bid evaluation committee “unlawful”, amounting to “improper conduct and maladministration”.
Zille disputed Madonsela’s “observations” in the interim report and threatened to challenge these in the High Court unless they were excised from Madonsela’s final report, due out at the end of the month.
Nick Clelland-Stokes, director of strategic communications for the province, said: “The premier met the public protector yesterday and presented the Western Cape government’s response to Madonsela’s draft report. The engagement was fruitful.
“Both sides expressed concerns regarding the leaking of the draft report and agreed it had compromised fair and due process.”
But ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile, who was also invited to the meeting, said Zille had walked out of the boardroom when she saw him and Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich at the public protector’s office in Wale Street.
“When she saw that we were there, she walked out and complained to the public protector,” Mjongile said.
“We were all going to engage with the public protector together, the complainant (the ANC) and the respondent (the DA), but she (Zille) didn’t want this. She then engaged with the public protector on her own.”
Zille denied Mjongile’s claims.
Clelland-Stokes said: “The premier had a one-on-one meeting with the public protector. The complainants were not present.”
Mjongile said: “Helen Zille wants everything her way. She can’t accept (Madonsela’s) draft report.”
He said the ANC planned to e-mail its response to the public protector’s office by midnight on Thursday night.
Madonsela’s spokeswoman, Kgalalelo Masibi, refused to speak about Thursday’s meeting.
She said all the details would be outlined in the final report.
The communications tender, worth between R50 million and R70m, is a two-year contract awarded to TBWA/Hunt Lascaris in 2010 to develop a communications strategy for the provincial government.
The Department of the Premier has confirmed that Zille’s adviser, Coetzee, together with Clelland-Stokes, had drafted the criteria for the tender and the advertisement and sat on the bid evaluation committee with Zille’s speech writer, Gavin Davis, and former provincial education ministry head Paul Boughey.
Boughey is currently mayor Patrica de Lille’s chief of staff. Davis resigned in August.