Deon de Lange

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

Corruption Watch has now asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate how it came about that Global Interface Consulting – a marketing and communications company – won a tender 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 in favour of the R13.5m bid by Global Interface Consulting.

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, as required,” Corruption Watch yesterday.

The anti-corruption NGO also 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”.

Transport Department spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso told The Star last night that the department “views any allegations of corruption in a serious light” and was “committed to addressing elements of corruption whenever they surface”.

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

Global Interface chief executive Pat Nyathi did not respond to requests for comment last night. According to his profile on the company website, Nyathi is “currently advising public and private sector organisations on both internal and external communications”.

“He is also a renowned lobbyist, having successfully facilitated a number of high-profile deals involving some private sector companies and governmental organisations,” the profile states.

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

But Nyda chairman and ANC Youth League executive member Andile Lungisa has previously 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 also reported at the time that Global Interface Consulting was not registered when it initially won the youth festival tender.

According to Corruption Watch, another losing bidder in the transport tender, Omega Investment Research – whose bid came in at R6.7m – had yet to receive a response to 23 e-mails sent to the department in which it objected to the manner in which the tender had been awarded.