CTICC EXPANSION MUST PROCEED LEGALLY AFTER ALL DISPUTES ARE RESOLVED

Whilst the greatness of Cape Town and valuable institutions like the CTICC are precious public assets, none of these virtues give the CTICC (through Convenco), the City of Cape Town (CCT) or the Western Cape Government (WCG), the right to flout the law. The precedent of very lucrative yet unlawful tenders already awarded while pursuing this expansion, the right withhold information from the public and public representatives, must not be allowed to tarnish such assets on the grounds that unlawfulness was undertaken for ‘the greater good’.

Whilst the Western Cape economy and our people need the development, jobs, excitement and sustainability that the CTICC expansion could offer, it must not be allowed to be founded on irregularities, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and maladministration.

As the Chair of SCOPA, my expectation on behalf of the tax-payers, who must fund an expansion of this nature, must know that their hard earned money is being well spent in a manner that is legal, compliant, transparent and open to public scrutiny.

Although up to two billion Rand is earmarked to be spent on this expansion, close to R200 million has already been spent on land and fees to date, at least R50m of which is founded on maladministration and irregularities. This is deeply concerning. The beneficiaries have been the private sector consultants who went into these contracts with their eyes open and should therefore be held equally accountable, as were the officials that should be / were reprimanded.

Sadly, the findings of the Auditor-General (AG) three years in a row, the City’s Forensic Services Department (FSD) report of 2013, the Public Protector’s (PP) report ‘Over a barrel’ (report 16 of 2012/13) and the PP’s continued investigations and recently announced expanded review, confirm that all is not well – prompting me to insist that SCOPA interrogates the CTICC expansion in terms of the WCG’s role and its past and possible future expenditure in this regard, and to insist that the PP interdicts the expansion until its review report is finalised and made public.

In this respect, it should concern all of us that an item assessing allegations regarding these findings of substantial irregularities relating to irregular tender awards, were forced off SCOPA’s agenda by the DA majority in March 2014.  This has prompted a constitutional debate that tests the very root of our democracy and what it stands for.  Whilst the demonstration of intolerance appears to be at the forefront of the DA agenda, the duplicity it has demonstrated in this regard is disingenuous.

So why then did I ask Mr. Lukey to present to SCOPA on these irregularities?  Mr. Lukey is a registered professional with over 30 years of experience in the Property and Built Environment at director level.  He has an intimate knowledge of the Foreshore Joint Venture Land Transaction spanning 18 years. His knowledge, professionalism and integrity earned him the position of Project Champion of the Foreshore Joint Venture and his success is born out in the more than R 380 million of land rights he acquired for the City, Province and Naspers. Lukey was also a co author of the Land Transaction Agreement and the motivation report that gave birth to the land rights and its associated site development plans.  Lukey speaks highly of the entire Joint Venture Team which encouraged and integrated professional members of the City, Province and the private sector that achieved remarkable value and facilitated development opportunities such as the proposed CTICC expansion.

Given his intimate knowledge of the CTICC expansion since 1996, I don’t believe there is anyone in South Africa who knows the details more than Lukey , and he has documentary history and evidence that points to the irregularities currently in question.  The DA should be welcoming his availability and willingness to shed light on these irregularities, so that we can all know how the public’s money was and is being spent.  This approach would have been consistent with the DA’s claims of being for openness, transparency and accountability, and being against corruption, maladministration and unlawful, irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure of the public’s money.  Sadly now, their continued refusal to hear the matter in an open, cost-free public forum, such as SCOPA, speaks volumes about what they are really hiding.

Moreover, their insistence that this matter should instead be taken to a court of law knowingly at exorbitant additional costs, smacks of intimidation.  I say this because Parliament comprises elected public representatives who, in committees, frequently convene meetings that are open to the public and where departmental officials at any level within the relevant sphere of government appear before it to provide evidence, explain and be interrogated on their decisions, plans and actions, and to hear ours and the public’s views on relevant matters.  In WCPP, our Standing Committees even have the power to summons people who refuse to appear by invitation. Thus, Standing Committee’s purposefully provide easy, timeous and cost-free opportunities for the public to engage their elected public representatives and the officials from departments on matters that concern them.  That is the very essence of our representative parliamentary system that is designed in such a way that the public do not have to approach the courts in the first instance.  Why then is it that the DA insist that Mr. Lukey approach the courts for relief (at great cost and time), rather than appear before SCOPA.  Lukey has on several occasions also pro-actively recommended an Assisted Dispute Resolution process to resolve all issues. This process falls within the Public Protectors mandate but even this has fallen on deaf ears.

The rules of WCPP provide that the Chair of each Standing Committee determines the agenda.  It does not expect consultation with Committee members or anyone else for that matter.  I’m not against such consultation and have done so often, but it’s certainly not a requirement.  In fact, all DA Chairs of Committees, including those Chairs who are members of SCOPA, regularly determine the agenda of their own committees in the same way I did, amid few complaints, if any.  The Speaker of WCPP agreed with me in writing that I am correct and that not even he, as head of WCPP, is able to determine whether a matter should or should not appear on a committee agenda.

The Cape Town International Convention Centre Company (Pty) Ltd  (a.k.a Convenco) owns and manages the business of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).  Convenco is jointly owned by the City of Cape Town (50.2% shareholding), the Western Cape Government (25.1% shareholding) and SunWest International (Pty) Ltd (24.7% shareholding).

Since:

(a) the WCPP’s Convenco Act (No 8 of 2000) provides for the WCG’s shareholding and, inter alia, that

(b) the provincial Cabinet appoints one or more Directors on the Board of Convenco;

(c) the provincial Minister of Finance may only appropriate funds that have been authorised as being part of an annual budget passed by WCPP in terms of an appropriation act;

(d) the accounting officer, being the Head of Department of Economic Development and Tourism in WCG, is responsible for the financial management of any funds appropriated by the provincial government for the benefit of Convenco and must manage and account for all such funds in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act the Accounting officer;

(e) the Public Finance Management Act applies to WCG;

(f) dividends accruing to the WCG are deemed to be income and must be paid into the Provincial Revenue Fund, managed by Provincial Treasury, which reports to SCOPA;

(g) the accounting officer must ensure that the annual report of Convenco (CTICC) is tabled in the provincial Parliament (and therefore SCOPA) and submitted to the Auditor-General; And

(h) since the Rules of WCPP requires the relevant Ministers to account to WCPP and its committees on the implementation of both the PFMA (relating to WCG’s 25,1% shareholding and all previous financial appropriations to CTICC), and on compliance with WCPP’s Convenco Act, it is abundantly clear that SCOPA not only has a clear right, but an obligation to attend to this matter and should do so urgently before even more of the publics money is spent.

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