Withdrawal of fisheries contract leaves department on the hook

22 March 2012

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22 March 2012 | Angeline Albert

The South Africa government is to investigate contract awards in its Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, after a contract awarded to a supplier had to be withdrawn.

Tina Joemat-Pettersson, minister of agriculture, forestry & fisheries, said her department would set up an inquiry into tender practices following allegations of procurement irregularities. The investigation concerns the tender process, and the company awarded the deal is not under any suspicion.

Last November the department awarded the diversified business Sekunjalo a deal to manage and look after the maintenance of the department's fleet of research and fisheries patrol boats, but withdrew the award on the advice of the government’s lawyers. “As a result of our own flawed processes, an innocent company, Sekunjalo, has been portrayed as the culprit in this saga,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

“The reality is that, based on our own legal advice, it was our processes and procedures that failed. Another company could have taken serious legal action against the department for awarding and then withdrawing a tender, based on shoddy government work.”

The inquiry, due to be established in April, will assess tenders and tender processes at the department to determine whether any fraud or maladministration has been committed.

The minister added: “This inquiry is not a witch-hunt, it is an attempt to allow fisheries to restore its image as a clean and capable branch."

The department’s existing contract for the management of fisheries patrol boats (with another supplier) finishes at the end of March. As a result of the withdrawal of the contract award made in November, the ministry is currently looking for a temporary supplier. The minister said its department would determine whether to put the contract out on tender or not, based on legal advice.


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