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Heated Zille hits out at tender irregularity claims

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has denied a Sunday newspaper report that her office awarded a communications tender worth R1-billion to an advertising agency without following proper procedures.

“There is absolutely no truth in the suggestion that there was anything improper or unprocedural in awarding this tender,” she said in a statement.

“Questions must be asked why the Sunday Times chose deliberately not to present the facts as presented to them. We will be laying a formal complaint with the Press Ombudsman.”

The Sunday Times reported that a contract was awarded to TBWA Hunt Lascaris to take over communications of ten government departments in the province.

According to the report, the tender was not publicly advertised or placed on the government tender bulletin, as is required by Treasury regulations.

“Not only did we confirm to the journalist that the tender was advertised in Die Burger and the Cape Argus, we sent the journalist a scan of the actual advert that appeared in print,” Zille said.

‘Learning experience’
The Sunday Times reported that a review by the provincial treasury had found that the appointment of TBWA “revealed a lack of control measures and good governance principles”.

It endorsed the tender process, finding that the flaws amounted to a “learning experience”.

Zille said the R1-billion price tag on the tender was an “absolute fabrication”.

“It was made clear to the journalist that the estimated total communications spend of the provincial government is between R50-million and R70-million per year.”

A bid adjudication committee, which included officials from legal services, had not received disputes from participating bidders and there were no irregularities, Zille said.

‘Transparent and fair’
Nobody involved in either the bid specification or bid evaluation committees were members of the bid adjudication committee that made the final decision to award the contract, she said.

“I am confident that the bidding process was transparent, fair, equitable, competitive and cost effective.

“The Western Cape government has nothing to hide and will give the auditor general full access to any documentation or officials required for his investigation,” she said.

Zille said she has asked the director general to request that the Auditor General conduct a tender process audit. — Sapa

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