23 in Cape tender probe
The Western Cape government has been advised to take disciplinary action against 23 of its employees in connection with tenders awarded to two city communications companies during former premier Ebrahim Rasool’s tenure.
Provincial government communications contracts came under the spotlight when it emerged after Helen Zille took over as premier in 2009 that R80 million had been paid to three companies over four years.
Since the DA took over the provincial government numerous investigations have been conducted into a variety of contracts with several public relations and events companies.
The investigation into the media contracts revealed that Cape Argus journalist Ashley Smith had been paid to write stories favourable to Rasool, creating the so-called “brown envelope” scandal.
Smith in turn alleged that one of his colleagues had also received money.
Rasool and his ANC colleagues have all denied any irregularities in the awarding of the contracts, and that illegal payments were made to journalists.
Last year the provincial government handed a forensic report to the Hawks and its own Forensic Investigations Unit (FIU) continued to probe the contracts.
Provincial communications spokesman Nick Clelland-Stokes said the FIU had examined “the processes that were followed when awarding and managing tenders”.
“Disciplinary action has been recommended by the FIU against those 23 officials... and these findings have been sent to labour and the relevant HODs (heads of department).”
Zille’s spokeswoman, Trace Venter, said three departments were involved: Community Safety, the Department of the Premier, which had dealt with the company Hip Hop Media, and the Department of Transport and Public Works, which had dealt with Hip Hop Media and BrandTalk.
Venter stressed that the latest FIU investigation had “nothing to do with brown envelopes”, and had focused only on “internal processes” regarding the tenders.
Meanwhile, the ANC’s provincial chairman Marius Fransman, whom Smith implicated as being involved in making payments to journalists, has slammed the DA, saying it had “manipulated” and “pressured” officials in the Western Cape government to make damaging comments on the former ANC-led administration.
Fransman claimed the DA was using dirty tricks to pin the ANC leaders and others to allegations of corruption and fraud dating to when Rasool – who is now South Africa’s ambassador to the US – was premier of the Western Cape.
“The DA has gone off to try and manipulate officials. They pressurised officials to speak badly about the former administration. That’s illegal. We know of some officials who they put pressure on to speak badly,” said Fransman, who is also the deputy minister of International Relations and Co-operation.
Pressed for more details and asked whether he had proof to back up the allegations, he said he was not making “wild allegations”, adding that he did not want to divulge any more details.
Asked what he planned to do with the information he received from these officials and if he intended to approach the authorities, given that it was a serious allegation, he said this was “my business”.
Fransman said he did not want to reveal too much too soon. “You know me,” he said.
He charged that the forensic audit which had thus far implicated 23 officials was a political witch-hunt.
“It’s a deflective process, to take attention from what’s going on in the DA.
“It’s wrong to use state processes to go after individuals. The law must take its course and we will abide by that,” Fransman said.
He expressed confidence that the probe by the police would not implicate him in anything.
“Zille is trying to trump up a thing.”
He said that instead of concentrating on the ANC’s tenure in government in the Western Cape, Zille should get her own house in order. - Cape Argus