R11 million tender scandal rocks office of the Premier

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader:

The Democratic Alliance will be submitting written questions to the Office of the Premier and the provincial department of Health to determine the exact extent of a new tender scandal. The premier has been exposed as awarding a tender worth R11 million without following the law.

There is a spirit of lawlessness and a serious crisis of leadership in the Northern Cape executive. We now have a premier who not only refuses to take action against MECs who are criminally charged, but fails to uphold the law herself. As premier, Ms Lucas’ conduct must be above any reproach at all times.

The tender of R11 million was not even advertised before it awarded.

It is for nine televised episodes of ‘A Nation at Work’. The intent is to showcase the provincial government’s efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS.

In awarding the tender, the premier apparently overrode the objections of the MEC for Health, Mac Jack.

Despite failing to advertise the tender, the company Cultuphase received a letter of appointment dated 27 December 2014 from the director-general Justice Bekebeke. This is against the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury Regulations, which prescribe a strict framework for the advertising and awarding of tenders.

It is mind-boggling that the premier prioritises irregular payments for propaganda rather than funding the fight against HIV/AIDS on the ground.

The irregular awarding of the tender will also have a negative impact on the department of Health, which apparently contributed R6 million.

The acting chief financial officer has warned that the payments will constitute irregular expenditure. In the previous financial year, the department had irregular expenditure of more than R1 billion. The premier should be assisting the department with reducing its irregular expenditure, not worsening the situation herself. Historically, the department of Health has had at least nine years of straight disclaimers. Last year was the first time that it had managed to improve slightly on its financial management. This is the last department than can afford any further emphasis of matters and still it has the audacity to get involved in tender irregularities of this nature.

The department of Health alleges that its current budget is not adequate for the provincial health sector. The province simply does not have the money to spend irregularly on vanity projects and propaganda. R11 million can go a long way in curbing the fight against HIV/AIDS. It constitutes 23% of the budget available to the department to fight HIV/AIDS.

We will be investigating the matter further. Should the facts warrant it, we will consider the laying of criminal charges.