Deon de Lange

Political Bureau

THE Department of Transport stands accused of awarding a R13.5 million communications contract to an apparently well-connected company despite competing bids being as low as R3.8m.

Corruption Watch has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate how Global Interface Consulting – a marketing and communications company – won a contract to manage communication services for the department’s international investor conference in June last year when other companies had offered to do the job for up to R10m less.

The matter was brought to the attention of Corruption Watch by a competing bidder, Indigo Design and Event Marketing, after it failed to get answers from the Transport Department about why its bid of R3.8m had been overlooked.

Indigo Design has since also lodged a complaint with the public protector.

“There is also a possible conflict of interest (involved) with Global Interface Consulting’s parent company, Global Interface, having done business for the Transport Department in the preceding 12 months – a fact allegedly not revealed in the bid documents submitted to the department, (contrary to requirements),” Corruption Watch said in a statement yesterday.

The NGO alleged that the company had “not completed the tender documents in full” and that the documents had been submitted “using the business profile of the more established (parent company) Global Interface”.

“Then there is the fact that price made up 90 of the 100 points that were to be considered when evaluating bid proposals,” the organisation added.

The Transport Department “views any allegations of corruption in a serious light”, spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said last night.

It was “committed to addressing elements of corruption whenever they surface”.

“I can confirm that we are aware of this complaint,” Rikhotso said.

“We have been contacted by the public protector and are co-operating with the process.”

Global Interface CEO Pat Nyathi did not respond to requests for comment last night.

According to his profile on the company website, Nyathi is “advising public and private sector organisations on internal and external communications”.

It also says: “(Nyathi) is a renowned lobbyist, having successfully facilitated a number of high-profile deals involving some private sector companies and governmental organisations.”

Global Interface Consulting boasts of having handled communications for the National Youth Development Agency’s multimillion-rand socialist youth jamboree in December 2010.

But agency chairman Andile Lungisa, who is also an ANC Youth League executive member, has stated that, although the company was initially earmarked for the job, it “failed to deliver and was therefore not assisting in any way in the festival”.

It was reported at the time that Global Interface Consulting was not registered with Cipro when it initially won the youth festival contract.

According to Corruption Watch, another losing bidder for the transport communications contract, Omega Investment Research – whose bid came in at R6.7m – has yet to receive a response to 23 e-mails sent to the department objecting to the way in which the contract had been awarded.

Other clients claimed by Global Interface Consulting have included: the Jacob G Zuma RDP Education Trust; the ANC in Gauteng; the Nelson Mandela Foundation; and various government institutions, including the SA Maritime Safety Authority, Brand South Africa and the International Marketing Council.