'Cowboys don't die easily' - Fransman
Auditor-general flagged amounts when he served as MEC
BELEAGUERED Western Cape politician Marius Fransman told his detractors, who were poised for another strike at his political career, that the only time he would be down and out was when he was dead.
Fransman made his first appearance in the Western Cape Legislature yesterday since he resigned from his position as ANC leader of the opposition more than a year ago, to account on the use of consultants in his department during his tenure as public works MEC.
“Let me clear here. Cowboys don’t cry easily,” Fransman told journalists after the meeting.
The standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) sat in July and was briefed by accounting officers from the departments of health and public works and transport, based on the auditor-general’s (AG) report into the use of consultants in both departments.
The AG also briefed the committee on the findings of a performance audit into both departments, which spent millions of rand on consultants.
The report was based on findings made on a sample of 11 consultancy projects with contracts amounting to R625 million for health, while 20 of the audited projects for public works stood at R328m.
The AG said the total spent on consultants amounted to R9.2bn (for both departments) from the period 2008 to 2011.
Chief financial officer at transport and public works advocate Chantal Smith said at the time there was nothing wrong with the contracts.
Fransman also said there was certain legislation that prohibited MECs and ministers from involving themselves in the tender process.
The meeting yesterday was heated from the beginning with MPLs having a go at each other. Scopa chairperson Ferlon Christians said most of the matters raised by the DA MPLs were explained and dealt with in previous meetings with accounting officers of the respective departments.
ANC MPL Carol Beerwinkel also objected to the DA MPLs’ questions.
Fransman, however, said he was willing to answer any questions. “But we need to be fair here. If the premier (Helen Zille) can simply say that she cannot get involved in the tender process (because she is the premier), why can I not say that?”
Fransman also pointed out that the head of the public works department, Jacqueline Gooch, said the projects flagged for irregular expenditure included 11 items worth R63.8m, which had been accounted for by the relevant authorities and a further 10 for R89m that were found to be invalid.
Beth Engelbrecht, head of the health department, also told Scopa in July that there was no political interference by then health MEC Pierre Uys.
In March 2014, Fransman refused to answer questions under oath and opted to walk out of the Scopa meeting, saying the meeting was unlawful.
The DA’s deputy chief whip Denis Joseph claimed Fransman had again dodged accountability for “wasteful expenditure”.