Police may probe big bill
Former ANC chairperson Marius Fransman ‘firm’ in grilling over R328m consultants’ account
THE Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in the provincial legislature will in two weeks decide whether to halt a probe against former ANC chairperson Marius Fransman, or refer the matter to police for criminal investigation over a R328 million bill for consultants.
This follows Fransman’s appearance before the Scopa earlier this week to account for the money spent on consultants in the Department of Public Works and Transport, while he was MEC from 2005 to 2008. It related to a report by the Auditor General from a sample of 11 consultancy projects from the Department of Health, amounting to R625 million, and another 20 from Public Works and Transport, which stood at R328 million.the AG said R9.2 billion was spent on this from 2008 to 2011 for both departments.
A confident Fransman spent two hours in the hot seat on Wednesday afternoon after evading appearance for two years. He approached the Western Cape High Court last year about not appearing, but the court turned down his request with costs.
When Fransman eventually appeared, sparks flew from the outset, when ANC and DA MPLS argued among themselves over which questions to ask him. Fransman, however, stood firm about never having influenced the awarding of tenders or contractors by the department.
After the meeting, committee chairperson Ferlon Christians told reporters that in his opinion, he did not see a need to take the matter forward.
“I don’t think there can be any fingers pointed. The department has already given us an overview and documents that state that there were officials disciplined and measures put in place to deal with this,” he said.
“I will see what we decide in committee but, according to me, I don’t see any reason to take it forward.”
However, after the meeting, he said that they had not reached an agreement on a way forward.
“In our discussions, we could not reach an agreement; some felt the responses from him (Fransman) and the department were satisfactory and others felt otherwise,” he said.
“We are meeting again on the 27th and we will discuss this matter further, either that it ends now or the one thing that the committee can do is lay a criminal charge with the SAPS or approach the provincial treasury to implement their own corrective measures,” Christians added.
Fransman said he did not understand why he had been called to appear before the committee when the department had already informed the Scopa that there had been no political interference.
“I am currently a private citizen. I came here assuming the responsibility of Scopa, their independence in their quest for information; I must admit, having heard that the department was here already and said there was no political interference, I asked myself why I was called,” he said.
“The truth ... is we knew where this was coming from two years ago. At the time, I understood that I was the head of the opposition and there was a political attack, but the fact that I am no longer a political leader, I thought life moves on and it was unfair to try to still go for political issues.”
Fransman called the process a “witch hunt”, where state institutions were used to settle political fights.