More ' dodgy deals' laid bare in labour dis­pute

Ten­der bid ad­justed on depar­ment's re­quest, au­di­tor-gen­eral's re­port shows

Sunday World - - News - NKU­L­ULEKO NCANA

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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