Cape Town - Beleaguered Western Cape politician Marius Fransman told his detractors - poised for another strike to his political career - that the only time he would be down and out, was when he was dead.
Fransman made his first appearance in the Western Cape Legislature on Wednesday since he resigned from his position as ANC leader of the opposition more than a year ago, to account on the use of consultants in his department during his tenure as MEC for Public Works.
“Let me clear here. Cowboys don’t die easily,” Fransman told journalists after the meeting.
The standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) sat in July this year and was briefed by accounting officers from the departments of Health and Public Works and Transport based on the Auditor-General’s (AG) report into the use of consultants in both departments.
The AG also briefed the committee on the findings of a performance audit into both departments which spent millions of rands on consultants.
The report was based on findings done on a sample of 11 consultancy projects with contracts amounting to R625m for Health, while 20 of the audited projects for Public Works stood at R328m.
The AG stated that the total spent on consultants amounted to R9.2bn (for both departments) from the period 2008 to 2011.
Chief financial officer at Transport and Public Works advocate Chantal Smith said at the time there was nothing wrong with the contracts.
Fransman also said there is certain legislation that prohibits MEC’s and ministers from involving themselves in the tender process.
“The relevant legislation is quite clear about this,” he said.
The meeting was heated from the beginning with MPL’s going at each other. At times the bickering between members of Scopa was rowdy and at one stage lasted for almost 20 minutes.
Scopa chairperson Ferlon Christians said most of the matters that were raised by DA-MPLs were explained and dealt with in previous meetings with accounting officers of the departments.
ANC-MPL Carol Beerwinkel also objected to the DA-MPL’s questions.
Fransman however said that he was willing to answer any questions.
“But we need to be fair here. If the premier (Helen Zille) can simply say that she cannot get involved in the tender process (because she is the premier), why can I not say that? We need to be consistent,” he said.
Fransman also pointed to the fact that the Head of the Public Works Department Jacqueline Gooch said the projects flagged for irregular expenditure included 11 items worth R63.8m which was accounted for by relevant authorities and a further 10 for R89m found to be invalid.
Beth Engelbrecht, Head of the Health Department, also told Scopa in July that there was no political interferences by then Health MEC Pierre Uys.
In March 2014 Fransman refused to answer questions under oath and opted to walk out of the Scopa meeting citing that the meeting was unlawful.
The DA’s deputy chief whip Denis Joseph claimed Fransman again dodged accountability for the “wasteful expenditure”.