Mike Moriarty MPL
Spokesperson on Finance
Questions I posed to Gauteng Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe on the controversial Gauteng Online yielded disappointing results in the Legislature today. I asked the MEC to give his view on whether the new Gauteng Online tender has been rigged, suggesting this is the case because a new contractor would have to get the existing 1 500 Gauteng Online schools live and functional between 22 March and 1 April.
Despite this the MEC declared that the tender was competitive and would not consider halting the process unless I could give compelling reasons. I put it to the MEC that there were indeed compelling reasons. Clause 2.1 of the tender on page 11 shows that all the computers in the 1 500 schools (25 in each) are supplied on a lease. In other words, they are not owned by the government but by the incumbent supplier. Moreover, the operating system is a proprietary one, owned by the incumbent. Even if a consortium was physically able to meet this challenge their price would be enormous and thus well higher than a price submitted by the incumbent. I asked the MEC whether that was sufficiently compelling to put a moratorium on the process.
Disappointingly, the MEC’s response was that never in his 15 years of being in the Legislature has there ever been a debate on the details of a tender in the House. The Gauteng Online project has gone backwards. This project is meant to bring much-needed computer access to children of needy families. About R3 billion has been spent on the project with very little evidence of much value. However, instead of rolling out further access to hundreds of schools, several computer labs have had to be closed down. These grounds are, at the very least, sufficient for a debate on the controversial tender.