Marius Fransman is to appear before the Western Cape Legislature over a probe into his tenure as public works MEC. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures
Cape Town - Former public works MEC Marius Fransman says he will appear before the Western Cape Provincial Legislature after the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) resolved to invite him to account on the use of consultants in his department during his tenure.

Scopa sat earlier this week 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 from the period 2008 to 2011.

Fransman was public works MEC between 2005 and 2009 while ANC MPL, Pierre Uys was at the Health Department during the same period.

In the presentations Public Works outlined the findings of its investigations into the projects listed in the report.

Head of 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.

Other projects that fell under “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” included one amounting to R157776 where liability was accepted by the department, another worth a little over R1m which was found to be invalid and another two tallying R758261, where the monies was recovered from consultants.

Gooch said disciplinary procedures against those involved were implemented, including issuing of two cautionary letters and two written warnings.

Committee chairperson Ferlon Christians said given the sums involved, the disciplinary procedures seemed like a slap on the wrist.

Asked if the MEC at the time had any undue influence over the procurement processes, Gooch said she did not know as she was not at the department at the time.

Health Department head Beth Engelbrecht told the committee all the money spent on consultants flagged by the AG was accounted for and that there were no incidents of wasteful or irregular expenditure.

“We have accounted for everything,” she said.

Shortly after the briefings by both department heads, the DA issued a statement indicating it would summon Fransman and Uys to appear before Scopa to account for the AG’s findings.

Christians chastised the DA for issuing the statement prematurely: “What was done by the DA is not right, they do not have that power to speak on behalf of the committee before decisions are made.

“A decision was eventually taken in committee and we resolved to invite, and not summon, Fransman to appear, nor was a decision taken on Pierre Uys,” he said .

Uys criticised the DA for jumping the gun.

“It is clear from what the officials said that there was never any irregular expenditure nor was there undue influence on my part on who got awarded contracts,” he said.

Fransman also challenged the DA for abusing the legislature’s processes to paint him and Uys as corrupt.

“I understand politically the DA needs to paint everyone as corrupt,” he said. “First of all, I would gladly go before Scopa. We don’t need to be summoned.”

Fransman has previously lost an application to the Western Cape High Court to block Scopa’s summons to appear and resigned from the legislature shortly after.

The DA’s Dennis Joseph conceded that the statement was issued before Scopa took a decision.

“Fransman will appear before the committee in September as the rules stipulate that those invited have to be given a 60-day period,” he said.

Weekend Argus