OPINION

Zille must come clean - Max Ozinsky

ANC MPL challenges Premier's attack on staff member of WCape legislature

ANC STATEMENT ON IRREGULAR PROCUREMENT by Mr. Max Ozinsky (MPP)

In the House on the 24th February 2011 the hon Premier (Helen Zille) made an unprecedented attack on a member of staff of the Provincial Legislature.

In her reply to the debate on her State of the Province address the hon Premier blamed the previous secretary of the legislature and what she called the "relevant official," who are not able to defend themselves from accusations on a matter that raises serious questions about her and her party's own role in a cover up, when she said:

"That in terms of the PFMA it is the responsibility of the accounting officer to ensure that goods and services are procured under a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective. I am further informed Speaker, that the relevant official in the Secretary's Office, responsible for travelling and accommodation arrangements ... [Interjection.] ... for committee members, failed to complete his work on a specific day and left the office to go home.

For some reason the accounting officer was not available to step in and manage this. The Speaker was away from Cape Town at a meeting at this time but was contacted and told of the problem that had been created. Given that the matter was urgent ... [Interjections.] ... the Speaker requested an official in his office to obtain three quotations as required and to arrange with the responsible but absent employee to accept the lowest quote."

For the record the hon Speaker and the then Secretary were together that day busy on Parliamentary business.

"The official in the Speaker's Office did as requested but erroneously awarded the work to the lowest bidder despite not being authorised in the delegations to do so. The then accounting officer, despite allegedly failing to put corrective measures in place, did identify this procurement as a possible instance of irregular expenditure in the Office of the Speaker, because of the non-compliance with the requirements of the Provincial Parliament's delegations of authority, and for no other reason.

The acting accounting officer is now dealing with this matter in terms of the National Treasury Guidelines pertaining to irregular expenditure, and officials in the Office of the Speaker were counselled and informed in writing to refrain from procuring goods and services even where they do so in good faith.

"I am informed that it is wrong to allege that the Speaker is personally at fault, and that the suggestion that the services were procured from people associated with the Speaker or the staff of his office, is I am informed without foundation.

"However, if the hon Ozinsky has any specific evidence supporting his allegations, he must please provide it to the accounting officer for further investigation and action, or he must take his allegations through due process in the correct way in this House. He knows exactly ... [Interjections.] ... how to do it, because he has done it before."

I hereby take this oppportunity, as suggested by the Premier, I lay before the House and the people of the province these emails, which were also addressed to the Hon Premier on the 27 September 2010 wherein Sunliner Tours say:

"It is now 27 days over your 7 to 10 days after invoicing. 37 days since job was completed. Again I remind you of the email to me."

Maybe this was the email dated 16 August 2010 which said:

"Dear Salie,

Speaker has approved your quotes, please accept this email as confirmation ... I think you need to invoice me now?"

This email is from Sanaa Petersen, Media Liason Officer, Western Cape Provincial Parliament."

The reply also dated 16 August adds to the intrigue:

"Sanaa, no accommodation require for local work. Only overland trips where the driver needs to rest. 99% of the time, hotels give free accommodation as. B+B when more than 10 person in a group. You will have to remind them when booking the rooms."

The implication of that sentence sounds criminal to me.

Finally they gave up all hope. On the 4 October 2010 Sunliner Tours wrote to the [email protected]:

"Asalaamualaikum Sheik,

I trust you are well. I am very dissapointed in the DA. I served you in providing the transport requirements in the Southern Cape as you are well aware of. I am disapointed in the DA as I am being lead around a very big bush when it comes to payment for the services rendered."

I will be handing this over to the AG and am getting advice on whether to lay criminal charges on this issue.

Is this why Die Burger is reporting today that the hon Speaker is being removed by the DA? If so the hon Premier should come clean with the people of the province on her role in this matter. If this is the reason then after the local government election is too late. The credibility of our House is in serious question.

Statement issued by Max Ozinsky on behalf of the ANC Western Cape Provincial Parliament, March 30 2011

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