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Zille: Sunday Times 'used by someone with axe to grind'

Staff Reporter

Someone "with an axe to grind" used the Sunday Times newspaper to create a scandal in the Western Cape, premier Helen Zille says.

Someone “with an axe to grind” used the Sunday Times newspaper to create a scandal over a communications tender in the Western Cape, premier Helen Zille said on Wednesday.

“Someone with an axe to grind leaked one selected document out of a whole process to give the impression that there had been a breach of regulations or some sort of corruption where there was none,” Zille told journalists at her offices in Cape Town.

“We have a clear example of someone being used by someone with an agenda.”

The Sunday Times reported on its front page that Zille’s office had awarded a R1-billion communication budget over two years to the agency TBWA Hunt Lascaris without following proper tender procedures.

The newspaper based the article on information supplied by an anonymous “whistleblower”.

Zille, who has asked the auditor-general to conduct an audit on the tender and has promised to resign if any corruption is found in the matter, said the R1-billion amount mentioned by the Sunday Times was a fabrication.

“The R1-billion or now R1.5-billion price is complete nonsense,” she said.

“We estimate that the provincial government spends between R50-million and R70-million per year on services relevant to the TBWA Hunt Lascaris contract.”

The provincial government gave out the tender as it wanted to improve its “fruit salad” communications strategy and effectively communicate its philosophy and delivery agenda.

“Citizens have a right to know what they get for their taxes and their mandate—irrespective of who they voted for.

“The fact is that the Western Cape government does not have a particularly good track record of communicating who we are and what the public is due by government.”

Zille said “the gist of the Sunday Times story was a cherry picking from the internal treasury assessment into the tender”.

“These sort of treasury documents are used as part of the routine of internal, robust evaluation we encourage within this government.

“Unfortunately this particular assessment document can be misinterpreted as if best practice is required and any deviation from ideal best practice is a regulatory violation, which is not the case.

“There was no regulatory violation at all, let alone corruption.”—Sapa

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