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South Africa: Minister baits hook for graft


Fisheries scientists sorting a catch of small ...
Fisheries scientists sorting a catch of small fish and Norway lobster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 IOL Business Report

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.

Sekunjalo lost its status last month as preferred bidder for the R800 million, five-year contract to police South Africa’s marine resources and conduct marine research.

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Acknowledging that the award to Sekunjalo had been withdrawn “on the basis of advice from senior counsel”, Joemat-Pettersson said that as a consequence “of our own flawed processes, an innocent company, Sekunjalo, has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.

Transparency and Your Natural Resources


Huffington Post

Marcelo Giugale, World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa

March 7th, 2012

Wouldn’t you want to know how much money your government gets from the companies that exploit your country‘s oil, gas or minerals? It doesn’t have to be exact, but a ball-park figure? And how about taking a peek at the contracts that your leaders sign on your behalf (remember, you and your fellow citizens are the real owners of your national wealth)? And aren’t you curious about where the money goes–or went? It is a bit of a puzzle that only 35 countries in the world have agreed to join the “Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative” (EITI), an invitation dating back to 2003 to publish who pays how much to whom in the business of exploiting natural resources. Of those 35, only one (Norway) can be considered “developed” and 25 are African–respect to them.

You would think that, by now, citizens and markets would have forced more countries and more companies to open their books. After all, commodity extraction is a five trillion dollar a year industry that is projected to grow even bigger, as China and other newly-developed countries compete for access to wells and mines. And that’s only for the portion of the resources that we know about. To give you an idea, it is estimated that only a tenth of Africa’s natural riches have been found (it would take a billion dollars to produce a full geo-data map of the continent). So, with prices bound to stay high and plenty of potential for new discoveries, you would expect breathing-down-their-necks public scrutiny of the whole thing. Nope. It hasn’t happened. Why? Read more.

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