Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. File Photo: Oupa Mokoena

Cape Town - The Western Cape government communications contract awarded to TBWA/Hunt Lascaris in 2010 – which expired in December – has been extended until a new tender process is completed.

Provincial communications director Nick Clelland said a new tender process for a communications contract had begun and it would be ensured that all regulations, policies and prescripts were adhered to.

“This detailed process takes time and has necessitated an extension of the current service – perfectly allowable in terms of the existing contract,” Clelland said.

The communications tender – worth between R50 million and R70m – was awarded to TBWA/Hunt Lascaris in 2010 to develop a communications strategy for the provincial government.

In August 2011, the ANC asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate whether the contract was awarded irregularly after the Sunday Times reported that the correct supply chain management procedures had not been followed.

The ANC in the Western Cape also filed a complaint against Clelland, Premier Helen Zille’s former chief adviser Ryan Coetzee, former provincial Education Department head Paul Boughey, and Zille’s former speech writer Gavin Davis for their alleged involvement in awarding the contract. The five denied the allegations and dismissed claims by the ANC as a “political smear campaign”.

In her final report on the tender, Madonsela made four findings of maladministration, but none of unlawfulness, which meant she would not recommend the contract was invalid or should be scrapped.

ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman said: “The Western Cape premier’s department under a cloud entered into a multimillion-rand communication contract and is still pumping at least a million rand a month into that company TBWA\Hunt Lascaris.

“The contract with TBWA\Hunt Lascaris was suspiciously renewed without starting a fresh competitive process – as was undertaken. Zille and her government, at the end of the dubious contract, unilaterally extended it at a vast cost to the taxpayer – at least a million rand a month. This excludes all kinds of extra incidental costs of millions that was claimed by TBWA\Hunt Lascaris. The estimated cost now ranges between R50m to R70m.”

In response, Clelland said: “Mr Fransman is doing his best to reheat the stone-cold storm in a teacup over the Western Cape government’s communications contract.

“The public protector found that there was no corruption in the awarding of the TBWA/Hunt-Lascaris contract; neither was there any political involvement, interference or manipulation in the procurement process. In short, the contract is legitimate and was validly awarded.”

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Cape Argus