DA submits PAIA application to access Sekunjalo tender documents
Reports today indicate that a politically-linked company has been awarded a nearly R1 billion tender by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson's department (see Sunday Times report).
The tender recipient, Sekunjalo Investments, will be responsible for managing the country's fishing patrol fleet. The fleet is responsible for research, inspections of fishing trawlers and anti-poaching patrols.
I will be submitting an application, under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), to access all documentation relating to Sekunjalo Investments' bid.
Minister Joemat-Pettersson's department must provide the public with all information relevant to this tender process to explain why Sekunjalo was selected as the preferred bidder.
In awarding this tender, the Department is spending almost R1 billion of state funds. The South African people have a right to know that their money is being spent responsibly.
The selection of Sekunjalo Investments as the recipient of this tender is an interesting decision, given the following:
Its links to cabinet members: Premier Fishing, a subsidiary of Sekunjalo Investments, reportedly paid a R100 000 private security bill belonging to Minister Joemat-Pettersson's cabinet colleague, Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Minister Nkoana-Mashabane failed to declare this payment to Parliament;
Its chairman's political connections: Sekunjalo's Chairman, Iqbal Survé, is a regular member of official business delegations accompanying President Jacob Zuma and other government leaders on overseas state visits; and
Its role as player and referee: Industry stakeholders are reportedly shocked at the decision to award the major fishing company a tender to police our fishing industry. They have raised concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest, given that Sekunjalo will now be both a "player" in the fishing industry, and a "referee".
The DA wants to know:
Why Sekunjalo was selected as the preferred bidder;
Why Minister Joemat-Pettersson last week reportedly announced that Sekunjalo had won the tender, without the full tender process having been completed;
• What the "control measures" are that the Department has said it will put in place to prevent any conflict of interest arising from Sekunjalo's role as "player" and "referee";
• What steps the Department took to address the concerns reportedly raised by the tender committee about any potential conflict of interest.
In addition to submitting a PAIA application, I will also be writing to the Chair of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Portfolio Committee to ask that Minister Joemat-Pettersson appears before the committee at the beginning of next year to answer these questions.
The South African public deserve to know that public money is being spent responsibly, and that it is their best interests, not those of politically connected businesspeople, which are government's top priority.
Statement issued by Deetlefs du Toit MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, December 4 2011
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