Contradictory statements, shifting standpoints and denials by the Free State Departments of the Premier and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) all go to show that there is a snake in the grass with the controversial agreement between the provincial government and the Letlaka media group that cost the tax payer R95 million for websites, says Wouter Wessels, FF Plus member in the Free State Legislature.
The contract initially came down to tax payers paying R120 million for websites for the Free State provincial departments and municipalities. The contract was entered into by the Department of the Premier on behalf of provincial departments and COGTA (with regard to websites for the municipalities).
It was, however, cancelled at a later stage and a settlement amount of R20 million was agreed upon. The total amount spent on this project amounts to R95 million.
According to Wessels, the quality of the websites certainly does not justify R95 million.
“COGTA and the Department of the Premier each appeared before the Legislature’s public accounts committee on Tuesday and they were bombarded with questions about the controversial contract and the settlement amount. Amongst other things, reference was made to a report from the National Treasury that warned that the Letlaka contract, which initially amounted to R120 million, would probably be a fruitless expenditure.
“The Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, denied the existence of the said report for years, while COGTA, on the other hand, makes mention of it.
“The FF Plus is of the opinion that the Public Protector’s (PP) report on the matter must be made available as soon as possible seeing as the investigation has been ongoing for years.
“It is imperative that all the facts concerning this astronomical expenditure are made public and for steps to be taken with regard to any irregularities.
“The various spheres of government should be able to make their own decisions with regard to service providers, like which service provider to appoint, without the provincial government interfering.
“The entire process and the final agreement that was reached between the Free State provincial government, in particular the Department of the Premier, and Letlaka leave us with more questions than answers. There are numerous irregularities and the simple fact that Letlaka could not even deliver a worthwhile product for the money that was paid to them, sets alarm bells ringing,” says Wessels.