'Cow­boys don't die eas­ily' - Frans­man

Au­di­tor-gen­eral flagged amounts when he served as MEC

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - Ja­son Felix

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”.

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