March 22nd, 2012
An independent committee, which is likely to be headed by a retired judge, will be trawling through all awards of fisheries tenders following what Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson admitted was a saga over the awarding of a marine patrol contract.
She said yesterday that a black empowerment company, Sekunjalo, had been tainted by dodgy departmental tender processes, which led to it losing its preferred bidder status.
In an admission that one of her departmental branches was a bit “shoddy”, the minister called an emergency press conference on a public holiday to announce the committee’s pending appointment.
The incumbent provider, Smit Amandla Marine, took legal action, arguing Sekunjalo had a conflict of interest as it would police marine resources while having a fishing company in its fleet. It also argued the adjudication process was fishy.
The minister said the fisheries branch had been under scrutiny “with regard to alleged irregular processes and procedures” being followed in the awarding of tenders.
Acknowledging that the award to Sekunjalo had been withdrawn “on the basis of advice from senior counsel”, Joemat-Pettersson said that as a consequence “of our own flawed processes, an innocent company, Sekunjalo, has been portrayed as the culprit in this saga and its reputation has been tainted”.
In an apparent reference to Smit Amandla, she said “another company” could have taken legal action against the department for awarding and withdrawing a tender “based on shoddy government work”. “I have consulted with the ministry of justice and constitutional development with the view of appointing a judge to head the committee of inquiry.” Read more.