R50-million SANDF contract questioned

A former spy chief and transformation consultants Deloitte & Touche are connected. Mungo Soggott reports

A controversial army general and former spy chief is at the centre of a row over a R50-million management consultant contract to transform the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Rival consultants have complained about the award of the transformation tender to leading consultancy Deloitte & Touche, says parliamentary defence committee chairman Tony Yengeni who intends to investigate claims that the tender process was handled incorrectly.

At the centre of the row is Major General Marius Oelschig, formerly logistics supplier to the Angolan rebel movement, Unita, and commander of Ciskei’s army at the time of the 1993 Bisho massacre.

General Oelschig is now in charge of the armed forces’ transformation and was head of the SANDF evaluation committee which recommended the State Tender Board select Deloittes.

Rival contractors have complained about General Oelschig’s close relationship with Deloittes. The general worked closely with the firm for two-and-a- half years on another transformation project which won him and them an international award in June.

There have also been questions about the coincidence between the Deloittes tender and the sum set aside by the SANDF for the contract. The military had secretly earmarked R50-million for the project. Deloittes pitched its tender at R49,59-million.

Oelschig’s military background makes him a startling choice as the man tasked with leading the armed forces in shedding its apartheid legacy. His career has included a substantial stint in military intellgence where he was at one stage director of special tasks, responsible for co-ordinating UNITA. He then became the military attache to France. When he returned to South Africa he took up another post with army intelligence, before becoming chief of the Ciskei Defence Force in 1991.

In 1992 Oelschig, fluent in both Portuguese and French, returned to the national army and has since been involved in various transformation projects.

The award of the transformation tender to Deloittes was first announced in the State Tender Board’s gazette in March. But it was only reported in the commercial press in June. It is understood the delay resulted from complaints lodged by the other bidders.

The public sector director at Deloitte and Touche, Pierre Tredoux, told the Mail & Guardian the transformation project it had worked on with General Oelschig was different from the work it would now be doing — it had involved “building a complex decision-making model to help the SANDF decide on how best to deploy its resources”.

Tredoux denied rumours that Oelschig would soon take up a consultancy post at Deloitte & Touche. He said he had a firm contract with all his clients that he would not recruit them at any stage.

SANDF Colonel John Rolt said Oelschig had only worked with Deloittes during the latter stage of the award-winning project.

Yengeni said at this stage he did not want to comment on the appropriateness of Oelschig steering the SANDF’s transformation. “At this stage I do not want to link Oelschig’s background with his current transformation work for the SANDF.”

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