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Comments on ANC taken out of context – Arms Procurement Commission


William Baloyi – Willie Seriti
15 March 2013
William Baloyi defends Chairperson Willie Seriti’s letter, says evidence and allegations not the same thing.

Arms Procurement Commission : Media Statement

The Commission has noted with concern the perception raised in a number of newspaper articles of the weekend of the 9th to 10th March 2013 and the immediately following days that this Commission does not intend, or seems to avoid, interrogating the allegations of corruption, fraud and other wrongdoing against the African National Congress (ANC), its officials, members and other people associated with it.

The perception or assertion arises from a letter dated 26 February 2013 that the Commission’s Chairperson had addressed to attorneys Abrahams Kiewits Incorporated of Cape Town in response to a demand that they made on behalf of their client, Mr Terry Crawford Browne, that we should summons the ANC and its officials to appear before the Commission to answer allegations against them and to produce certain documents (see below).

As is now the standard modus operandi of Mr Terry Crawford-Browne and his attorneys, correspondence exchanged between them and the Commission is routinely released to the media. No wonder that the letter in question is now in the public domain.

The demand to summons the ANC is a typical example of another unfortunate experience that the Commission has had in its interaction with Mr Terry Crawford-Browne and his attorneys, namely, the persistent attempt to prescribe to the Commission how to conduct its work, in particular, whom to call to appear before it and at what stage. We shall revert to the latter aspect in due course.

We are of the view that the statement that the Commission was not aware of the “evidence implicating the ANC” has been read out of context and blown out of proportion. Evidence and allegations are not the same thing. The Commission is fully aware of the various allegations levelled against some officials and the members of the ANC and other people associated with it.

These allegations form part of the on-going investigations that the Commission is busy with. In this regard, there is a tendency for some people, including, unfortunately, some media practitioners and commentators to elevate allegations to the status of evidence even before they have been tested in an appropriate forum. The fact is that even if there is evidence in the public domain implicating some people it still has to be tested for veracity and credibility before conclusions can be drawn.

We point out that the Commission is in possession of massive documentation containing information implicating many people and entities in the subject matter of our investigations. The public must understand that before the information is properly interrogated in the upcoming public hearings the Commission cannot be party to any exercise to canvass it in the public domain and bandy around the names of those implicated.

We have a duty to safeguard the information placed at our disposal and not to divulge it prematurely. Nor can we disclose the identities of the people implicated before they are given the opportunity to answer for themselves.

The principles of natural justice demand that we be fair to both the complainants and the suspects. For this reason, the witnesses who are given access to the documents in our possession cannot be allowed to divulge the information gained before the issues are ventilated in the public hearings.

The media statement that we issued on the 24th November 2012 wherein we announced the intention to commence with the public hearings on the 4th March 2013 was accompanied by a list of the witnesses to be called in the first phase of the public hearings.

We explained that most of these witnesses were selected based on their roles in exposing the allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety or irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Package. It may be recalled that the list include people who have written extensively on the subject and seem to have extensive knowledge of what transpired. It was imperative to fully canvass their evidence to lay the ground work for the subsequent hearings.

We made it clear then that it is in the subsequent phases that key people who were involved in the acquisition process as well as those who are implicated in allegations of wrongdoing will be called. This is how we planned to conduct the public hearings and that programme has not changed.

It is, however, not cast in stone and may be altered if circumstances demand it. But the decision as to whom to summons at what stage and which documents to call for falls within the exclusive discretion of the Commission and we will not be dictated to in this regard.

It is apposite at this stage to refer to paragraph 1.5. of the Terms of Reference:

“Whether any person/s, within and/or outside the Government of South Africa, improperly influenced the award or conclusion of any of the contracts awarded and concluded in the SDPP procurement process and, if so:

1.5.1 whether legal proceedings should be instituted against such persons, and the nature of such   legal proceedings ….”

This is clearly one of the issues we must probe and to suggest that we will not investigate people involved in the government of South Africa is rather mischievous.

Finally, we have released a media statement explaining why the public hearings that were to start on the 4th March 2013 had to be postponed to the 5thAugust 2013 to run until the end of November 2013.

A revised programme of action and a schedule of witnesses to be called, the dates on which each will appear as well as the venue of the hearings will be released to the public timeously before the 5th August 2013. We trust that everybody, including the media, will give this Commission the space to focus on the preparations for those upcoming hearings and complete its investigations.

Statement issued by Mr William Baloyi, Spokesperson: Arms Procurement Commission, March 15 2013

Text of Judge Willie Seriti’s letter to Abrahams Kiewitz Attorneys:

Arms Procurement Commission

Private Bag X02
The Tramshed
South Africa
Pretona
0126
Tel: 012 358 3999
Fax: 012 358 3969
Email: admin@armscomm.org.za

Abrahams Kiewitz Incorporated

For attention: Mr Charles Abrahams

Dear Mr Abrahams

1. Your letter dated 25 February 2013 has reference.

2. Currently, no evidence implicating the African National Congress has been brought to the attention of the Commission. Should such evidence come to light, the Commission will deal with the matter as it deems appropriate.

3. The Commission wishes to express its irritation with the persistent allegation by your client and yourselves that evidence leaders are kept in silos, implying that certain information is withheld from some ofthem. No evidence leader is kept in the dark about the activities of the Commission. We hope that this allegation will not be repeated. The incessant attempts to tell the Commission what to do should come to an end.

Yours sincerely

ARMS PROCUREMENT COMMISSION

Seriti JA JUDGE LW SERITI
Chairperson of the Commission

Corruption Watch queries R13m tender


www.oil.co.za  Business Report

By SAPA

June 21, 2012

A Corruption Watch probe has found irregularities in a R13 million tender awarded by the department of transport (DOT), the civil society organisation said on Thursday.

The department had awarded a tender to a company which had not fulfilled all the necessary requirements, and overpaid for services by R10 million, it said in a statement.

Global Interface Consultancy won a tender to manage conference and communication services for the department of transport’s international investor conference in June last year.

It had submitted a bid for R13.5 million.

Losing bidder Indigo Design and Event Marketing bid R3.837 million – about one-quarter of the winning bid.

Indigo Design, a BEE-accredited company, lodged complaints with the department, the Public Protector, and Corruption Watch (CW).

“CW’s further investigation into the DOT tender award revealed gross irregularities in the tender process,” Corruption Watch said.

Corruption Watch had handed over its findings, as well as two cases involving irregular public tenders, to the Public Protector for further investigation.

It was in the process of formalising a working relationship with the Protector.

“We will closely monitor the cases that we hand over to the Public Protector and we will assist her office with further evidence and information gathered from the public,” said executive director David Lewis.

“It should be stressed that this case and each of the serious acts of corruption that we are investigating were reported by alert members of the public.”

Comment from the department could not be immediately obtained. – Sapa

South Africa: Public Protector Must Investigate


AllAfrica.com

July 15th, 2012

PRESS RELEASE

According to reports today, the ANC‘s former parliamentary Chief Whip signed a “blank cheque” contract with EduSolutions, the company at the centre of the Limpopo textbooks crisis, to do business with the ANC in Parliament.

This is the latest in a series of reports which raise serious questions about the links between EduSolutions and the ANC and whether it was the company’s political connections that led to it receiving a number of state contracts.

I will be writing to the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, to request that the relationship between the ANC and EduSolutions is subjected to a full investigation.

Numerous links have been reported to exist between EduSolutions and the ANC.

These include:

African Access Holdings, the holding company of EduSolutions, is a key donor to Zuma’s RDP Education Trust

EduSolutions founder and CEO Shaun Battlemann has links to President Zuma as a “champion” of his education trust, Mr Battleman also reportedly has links to Professor John Volmink, a former top advisor to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and former ANC Chief Whip Mbulelo Goniwe, who was reportedly responsible for signing off on EduSolutions’ “blank cheque” contract to do business with the ANC in Parliament.

Brand Talk, a fellow subsidiary of African Access Holdings, was one of the companies implicated in the reported irregular awarding of communications tenders during the tenure of former ANC Premier of the Western Cape, Ebrahim Rasool.

Numerous concerns have been raised about the awarding of the Limpopo textbook contract to EduSolutions, and whether the proper processes were circumvented because of the company’s reported political links.

Problems with the awarding of the tender include:

Allegations that 22 of the 23 tender bids that were received for the Limpopo textbooks deal were disqualified- without any explanation. This left EduSolutions as the sole remaining bidder

A legal opinion, commissioned by the Department of Basic Education and provided to the State on 17 January 2012, stated that complaints of irregularities regarding the awarding of the Limpopo textbooks tender were swept under the carpet, and that it would be “irresponsible for the National Government to continue to give effect to the contract without a proper investigation of the complaints”. However, the opinion was ignored.

The same legal opinion declared that the contract with EduSolutions is “probably invalid” for not complying with Section 217 of the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act and the Treasury. However, the former Limpopo education administrator, Anis Karodia, was actively obstructed from implementing the legal opinion’s recommendations.

There are still too many unanswered questions regarding the awarding of the EduSolutions tender, and the company’s reported political links.

The Public Protector must investigate whether it is political patronage, rather than the needs of our learners, that dictated the awarding of this tender.

Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education


Combating procurement fraud in Africa and beyond


The Guardian

By 

June 8th, 2012

At the Global Africa Diaspora summit, African officials came together to discuss how to clamp down on procurement fraud.

Most African countries have a poor track record when it comes to combatingprocurement fraud. But there are signs that this could be changing – at least in South Africa. At the Global Africa Diaspora summit, held in Johannesburg in May, I ran a course on procurement fraud.

One of the aims of the summit, which was supported by the African Union, is to encourage involvement in African affairs by Africans living outside the continent. Some of the delegates said that people were reluctant to invest in existing business – or to establish new ones – unless there was more certainty that money would be spent well and that procurement was based on the best suppliers, not corrupt systems.

The first step in addressing procurement fraud is to admit that it is happening and to then take action against offenders. This appears to be happening in South Africa, where national newspapers have been highlighting alleged misdemeanours by senior officials.

According to The Johannesburg Star, the Nehawu trade union has called for the temporary suspension of Humphrey Mmemezi, the member of the executive council for local government and housing in the Guateng province (which covers Johannesburg and Pretoria), pending investigation over alleged misuse of a corporate procurement card. The ANC is also calling for an investigation. While there have been some high-profile cases of individual abuse in the UK, a recent report from the National Audit Office said civil servants were able to abuse government-issued credit cards because of failure in oversight…Read more.

South Africa: Zille hails tender finding


IOL News

By SAPA

June 1st, 2012

Western Cape premier Helen Zille on Friday welcomed the Public Protector‘s finding that there was no evidence of unlawfulness in her government awarding a branding contract to agency TBWA.

“The report shows, above all, that the entire exercise was a storm in a teacup stirred up by our political opponents,” she told reporters in Cape Town.

“The entire affair was a waste of the Public Protector’s time and cost the South African taxpayer hundreds of thousands of rand at least, that could have been better spent on service delivery.”

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela announced on Friday that she made four findings of maladministration but none of unlawfulness, which meant she would not recommend that the contract was invalid or should be cancelled.

Zille said the report found no corruption and political involvement, interference or manipulation in the procurement process. She was also not personally involved in the process.

She said it was found that the presence of two special advisers on the tender bid evaluation committee had made no difference to the outcome of the evaluation.

Madonsela found that some administrative processes in managing transversal tenders, those which involved various government departments and strict Treasury regulations, were faulty.

Zille said the provincial treasury had picked up these faults long beforehand and steps were taken to rectify them.

Madonsela was asked by, among others, the ANC in the Western Cape to investigate whether the department of the provincial premier had employed proper demand side management regarding procurement of the contract.

She had to find out whether failure to do so had resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, whether the department had kept proper records of proceedings of the bid evaluation committee, and whether the appointment of two special advisers to the committee which awarded the contract was legal. – Sapa

South Africa: ANC linked to e-tolling companies


Johannesburg – The SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) must disclose the names of all 33 sub-contractors involved in the collection of e-tolls on Gauteng highways, the DA said on Sunday.

“This is after disturbing reports [on Sunday] about African National Congress links to companies that will benefit from the e-tolling,” Democratic Alliance spokesperson Jack Bloom said in a statement.

The DA has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the controversial Gauteng e-toll collection contracts.

On Sunday, Bloom said he had received acknowledgement of his request.

“It is vital that this investigation goes ahead so that we know the truth about who benefits from these controversial contracts, and whether there was any corruption,” he said.

The Sunday Times has reported that politically-connected companies stand to benefit from e-tolling contracts.

Allegations

According to the newspaper, these included Tsebo Holdings, South Africa’s largest catering company, which was 15% owned by Nozala Investments and 15% by Lereko.

The Sunday Times reported that Nozala was headed by Salukazi Dakile-Hlongwane, a trustee of the ANC front company Chancellor House, and that Lereko was owned by former environment minister Valli Moosa and Chancellor House trustee Popo Molefe.

Other companies which stood to benefit were Vodacom and GijimaAST, which was 35% owned by billionaire businessman Robert Gumede, which won the two largest sub-contracts.

JSE-listed Gijima was awarded the contract to design and run the project’s IT system, the Sunday Times reported.

Molefe was reportedly not aware that Tsebo had any e-tolling contract until told of this by the Sunday Times.

“We as Lereko has not been involved in any discussions about e-tolling. We’re not even on Tsebo’s board, so we have no influence,” he told the newspaper.

Bribes

The 33 sub-contractors were signed up by the electronic toll consortium (ETC), after it was awarded the main R6.6 billion contract by Sanral in 2009. The ETC is responsible for collecting e-tolls.

The Sunday Times reported that the ETC had provided it with the names of only nine of the sub-contractors this week.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, ETC chief executive Salahdin Yacoubi said he would not release the full list of sub-contractors until he had “obtained permission” from them.

He said he had “nothing to hide” and would “collaborate with any investigation” into the beneficiaries of the e-toll contracts.

The Sunday Times also reported that a major beneficiary was the Swedish company Kapsch TrafficCom, which owned 40% of the main contractor.

The company confirmed to the newspaper that, until 2000, it was owned by arms company SAAB, which admitted in June to paying bribes of more than R24m to ensure it was picked to supply Gripen jets to South Africa in the arms deal.

The e-tolling system was halted last Saturday until a full court review could be carried out to determine whether it should be scrapped.

– SAPA

Why a South African Anti-Corruption Agency Must be Independent of the Police to be Effective


Institute for Security Studies

May 2, 2012

By Gareth Newham,  Head of the Crime and Justice Programme, ISS Pretoria

If it was not already clear why a dedicated anti-corruption agency capable of tackling powerfully connected people had to be independent of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the recent, and indeed ongoing failures of police leadership over the past few years should put this into perspective.

In 2010, ex-SAPS National Commissioner Jackie Selebi was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 2011, the SAPS National Commissioner, Bheki Cele, was suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry into his fitness for office. This followed a finding by the Public Protector that his actions in relation to a R1.67 billion police lease deal were ‘improper, unlawful and amounted to maladministration.’

In addition, one of the most powerful SAPS Divisional Commissioners, head of Crime Intelligence Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, is facing an astonishing array of allegations implicating him and his close colleagues in murder, rape and wide-scale corruption.  The National Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa has been accused of halting the Hawks’ investigation into Mdluli so as to protect him from further criminal charges, given Mdluli’s willingness to use his position to support Jacob Zuma’s intention to run for a second term as ANC president. Moreover, there are allegations emerging from investigations by the Hawks that Mthethwa illegally benefitted from the SAPS Secret Service Account to the tune of R195 581 for renovations to his personal residence, which was authorised by Mdluli.

Whether or not these allegations are ultimately proven, they have certainly severely undermined the public image of the police and further demoralised many of the honest hard working police officials expected to place themselves at risk in fighting crime.  Moreover, such allegations point to reasons why the political elite might choose not to strengthen the independence and ability of the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations (DPCI), commonly known as the Hawks, to investigate corruption committed by those at the highest levels of government…Read more.

Fraudulent tenders milk Limpopo treasury (South Africa)


IOL News

By Piet Rampedi

January 29, 2012

The Limpopo education department, which accounted for nearly half of the province’s R2 billion cash-flow crisis, awarded R1.2bn school infrastructure contracts irregularly and fraudulently.

The bulk of the tenders were awarded to associates of Premier Cassel Mathale and ANC youth leader Julius Malema, including Rivoni Properties owner Thulani Nkuna.

The department is led by MEC Dickson Masemola, the provincial ANC deputy chairman, who is a close ally of Mathale and Malema.

Nkuna, a Tzaneen-based businessman, was among a Limpopo government delegation, led by Mathale, that visited Italy on a trade and investment mission last year.

The selected contractors were given the lucrative contracts in exchange for donating piles of cash towards the construction of the Limpopo ANC’s luxury headquarters, according to provincial government, ANC and business sources.

Three independent sources said the contractors were told by senior provincial ANC leaders to help finance the R40 million Frans Mohlala House, funded by unnamed businessmen and officially opened by ANC president Jacob Zuma last January.

The Sunday Independent can today reveal that Tumisho Makofane, the education department’s former general manager for school infrastructure, has resigned amid allegations that he played a central role in manipulating contracts for the benefit of businessmen linked to Mathale and Malema.

Makofane confirmed his resignation on Friday, but denied it was linked to the school infrastructure contracts. He also denied he was joining Aurecon, one of the companies which benefited from the multi-million rand contracts awarded under his watch.

“There is no such thing. I am not responsible for the awarding of tenders. You can come see the documents I have so you can see what the situation is,” said Makofane…Read more.

South Africa’s Shabangu assures world of bold new mine law reform


Mining Weekly

By Martin Creamer

October 27, 2011

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has promised bold new South African mine law reform at a top world forum.

Shabangu told a Commonwealth South Africa-Australia forum in Perth that she was pioneering objective criteria in the processing and granting of both prospecting and mining rights.

Moreover, mining rights would be granted with water-use licences and environmental authorisation, to create a single integrated licencing system and, for the first time, rights holders would be allowed to subdivide and sell portions of their rights.

“These are critical steps in our attempt to ensure that our mining regulatory system conforms to international best practice,” the Minister said.

The construct of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act was being beefed up to remove ambiguities and possibilities for the multiplicity of interpretations and South Africa’s new electronic Samrad mineral-rights application system had transparently processed more than 2 000 applications since being introduced on April 18.

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) was also currently reviewing the Mine Health and Safety Act to remove ambiguity and to strengthen enforcement.

In a reiteration of her forceful anti-nationalisation stance, she reminded South Africa’s naysayers that South Africa had successfully pulled itself from the economic brink in 1994.

“We were successful in doing it then and I’m convinced we’ll be successful in doing it again,” she said.

The DMR had completed its beneficiation implementation plans for the iron/steel and energy sectors, and would finalise its implementation plans early next year for the beneficiation of pigments and titanium metal production, autocatalytic converter and diesel particulate manufacture, and jewellery fabrication.

Shabangu was pleased that the Commonwealth heads of government had afforded South Africa a chance to present its case.

“We’re part of the global community of nations, with all the benefits and obligations that go with it,” Shabangu said, adding that South Africa was driven to better the lives of all of its citizens with the help of its vast mineral resources.

It had not escaped the DMR that some of the biggest players in the resources sector owed their very existence to South African origins.

Meanwhile, as host to the global 17th Conference of the Partners climate-change summit, South Africa had an extraordinary obligation to lead from the front and create a mining industry that was in tune with international environmental conventions and agreements.

Tensions between communities and mining companies had to be resolved as a matter of top priority, with full consideration for the welfare of the communities and workers.

In addition to their contribution to foreign exchange earnings and taxes, she urged mining companies to continue to work with South Africa to give effect to the reasonable targets that were spelled out in the Mining Charter, including optimal local procurement, the promotion of entrepreneurship and the elimination of single-sex hostels.

“These are not luxuries; they’re a critical part of our attempts to right the wrongs of the past,” she said.

Despite the long and difficult road ahead, she was convinced that a South Africa could be forged that belonged to all the people living in it, as promised both in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.

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