More ' dodgy deals' laid bare in labour dispute
Tender bid adjusted on deparment's request, auditor-general's report shows
AN alleged cozy relationship between the Department of Communications ’ director-general and a media firm that has received millions in contracts has been exposed.
It has emerged that Media Corner received two other contracts jointly worth over R10-million just months before landing a R756-million digital migration awareness contract.
Sunday World has seen documents that show how Media Corner and its sister company, Bagport SA, got contracts for the production of a TV show and advertising respectively.
The documents are contained in court papers in a matter between the department and its marketing and communications director, Wisani Ngobeni, who is fighting to retain his position.
In his court papers, Ngobeni alleges that he was victimised by Communications Director-General Rosey Sekese after he made protected disclosures relating to the contracts awarded to Media Corner.
As part of his submission, Ngobeni produced further documentation related to Media Corner’s proposal to the department for a TV show at a cost of over R19-million in 2012. Media Corner requested R9.5-million of the money from the department.
Department documents show that Vilakazi drafted a proposal to Sekese on March 28 2012, requesting her “approval of the partnership between the Department of Communications and Media Corner to undertake an exercise of profiling… the work of state-owned entities within the communications portfolio ”.
On the same day, Sekese approved it and the contract was concluded. Media Corner got R9.5-million without tender processes being followed.
Ngobeni insists in his court papers that the contract was irregularly awarded to Media Corner. The department denied this. “Media Corner was appointed in terms of National Treasury practice. The practice note requires that unsolicited proposals [are] reported to the National Treasury and the auditor-general for compliance purposes… The department did report the appointment to both,” said Siya Qoza, spokesman for Communications Minister Yunus Carrim.
Two weeks before the TV contract, Sekese signed a contract with Bagport SA, to advertise at Bagport’s luggage kiosks at OR Tambo International Airport. The contract was worth R1.2-million over six months.
In his court documents, Ngobeni says: “There was no process followed by the director-general (Sekese) in respect of this contract.”
Qoza said internal procurement processes were followed when appointing Bagport SA.
He said the department could not comment on the court processes between it and Ngobeni.
THE auditor-general has accused the Department of Communications of giving an unfair advantage to Media Corner in the awarding of a R756-million digital migration public awareness contract.
A detailed draft management report on the department by the auditor-general shows that had proper tender procedures been followed, the deal should have been awarded to advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather.
It scored the highest points due to its technical specifications and cheaper pricing.
In his report to the department, the auditor-general found that during the tender adjudication process, Media Corner was asked by the department to revise its price, which was higher than Ogilvy s. None of the other companies were offered the same opportunity.
The contract is the subject of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe proclaimed by President Jacob Zuma after Sunday World revealed details of the alleged rogue contract last December.
The department’s directorgeneral, Rosey Sekese, is accused of irregularly entering into the contract with Media Corner despite knowing that the department could not afford it.
Sekese s deputy, Sam Vilakazi, is accused of facilitating millions in irregular payments to Media Corner though no work was done by the company.
The pair have previously denied the alleged irregularities, claiming that the signing of the contract and subsequent payments were above board.
Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim has stood by Sekese despite mounting evidence of alleged irregularities.
According to the auditor-general’s management report, Media Corner s original quote amounted to R12 747 228, including taxes and a 5% commission a year for three years.
Ogilvy s quote was R12 007 478, making it the winning bidder according to bid evaluation.
It appears that upon noticing that Media Corner would lose the bid, department officials asked the company to revise its price.
It was noted that a further communication with Media Corner was made on 3 September 2012 to clarify the costs quoted and a response from Media Corner was received via an email, indicating that the bid amount was revised to R11 800 028, including taxes,” the auditor-general s report said.
It was also noted that an original award was made to Media Corner on 28 August 2012 for an amount of R12 747 228 per annum for a three-year period although the price used in the evaluation report amounted to R11 800 028 was revised and sent to the [department] on 3 September 2012 after the award was already made to Media Corner.
Furthermore, no evidence was provided to the auditors to indicate that all bidders were requested to revise their bid quote.
Based on the above information, this resulted in an unfair advantage being given to Media Corner as the evaluation was revised to give the bidder [Media Corner] more opportunity to adjust the price and this communication was not made to other bidders,” the report added.
Ogilvy confirmed to Sunday World that the company was at no stage requested to revise its bid.
Ogilvy & Mather South Africa received no communication from the Department of Communications outside of being notified that our tender submission had not been successful,” its spokeswoman, Ivana Naidoo, said.
She added that the allegations presented would concern us” if they proved to be true.
Carrim s spokesman, Siya Qiza, said: The minister has initiated several investigations through different agencies, including the SIU, into allegations of corruption against officials in the department. We want these investigations finalised as soon as possible.”
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