Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office is investigating the awarding of an irregular tender between the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and IT firm Budge, Barone and Dominick (BBD).
The probe relates to the contract awarded to the company in 2006, when Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was still the commissioner of Sars.
Independent Media can exclusively reveal that in the past two years, Mkhwebane wrote letters to Sars informing them that her office was investigating a complaint by a whistle-blower into allegations of irregular tender processes, and the appointment of BBD by Sars according to Section 182 (1) of the Constitution, and several sections of the Public Protector’s Act.
One of the letters, which states that the tender must be re-advertised, supports allegations that in 2006 Gordhan, who was commissioner at the time, submitted a memorandum to then minister of finance Trevor Manuel, recommending the “noting of an intended appointment BBD”.
The letter by Mkhwebane’s office states: “The memorandum was sent in light of the intended cancellation of the appointed service provider Siebel (now known as Oracle), which in December 2005 entered into an agreement with Sars to provide software licenses, maintenance and professional services to configure and co-develop functionalities to meet Sars’s customer-management needs.”
It said former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi noted the memorandum and requested more information, but instead Manuel went beyond noting and approved the memorandum.
The complaint contained in the letter, said the contract was initially valued at R100million yet no tender process was followed by BBD.
The whistle-blower alleges that Sars contravened National Treasury regulation 16A6. in that Sars had no grounds to deviate from normal competitive bidding. The complaint also alleges the rules were rigged in favour of BBD, where the service provider was given four weeks to make proposals to Sars, without a competitive bidding process.
It is also believed that BBD was given an additional six weeks to scope the project which they had already been awarded.