Po­lice may probe big bill

For­mer ANC chair­per­son Mar­ius Frans­man ‘firm’ in grilling over R328m con­sul­tants’ ac­count

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - TSHEGO LEPULE

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.

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