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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

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


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

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.

ANC mulls legislation to supersede mining contracts – official


Mining Weekly

JOHANNESBRURG – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) wants to forge an economy in which its natural resources best serve the country, says the head of the party’s task team formed to study a proposal to nationalise mines.

National needs could take precedence over mining companies’ desire to export so that the country’s coal, iron-ore and other mineral reserves benefit the continent’s biggest economy, Enoch Godongwana said in an inter- view in Johannesburg.

South Africa’s policies should be guided by the extent to which we can use our resources to achieve a number of goals, among them growth and redistribution, Godongwana said.

Legislation that supersedes any contract you have to ensure the assets meet the country’s needs is an option,” he said. “In certain circumstances, national interest must prevail.”

Citigroup last year valued the country’s mineral resources at $2.5-trillion, the highest of any nation. Leaders of companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Africa’s biggest gold producer, and Standard Bank Group, the continent’s largest lender, have said nationalising mines will curb growth and hinder job creation in a country where one in four is unemployed.

South Africa has the world’s largest reserves of platinum, 30% of the world’s gold, and supplies coal to Indian and European power stations. Anglo American, Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton have assets in the country, which is also home to two of the world’s four biggest gold miners and the two largest platinum producers.

The ANC’s Youth League and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s largest labor grouping and a party ally, say that the ANC will adopt nationalisation as a policy at its national conference next year, and is only looking into the details of how best to do it. The study was agreed to after repeated demands by the youth wing, which is led by the 30-year-old Julius Malema.

If there are some people who say we’re going to nationalise and we’re just looking at the modalities, I’d suggest that person is insulting the intelligence of ANC delegates,” said Godongwana, who opposes State control of industry. “I don’t believe we should take on managing more than we can.” Read more.

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