Wednesday, October 3, 2012

DAFF Alleges SMIT Amandla Corruption Again

There can be little doubt that the rushed, gaff-filled and defamatory press statement issued by DAFF on 1 October and its subsequent dishonest backtrack on 2 October 2012 now exposes the Minister and DAFF to a serious defamation law suit by Smit Amandla.

The statement issued on 1 October confirmed that an "Ernst & Young forensic report" confirmed that Smit Amandla was essentially found to be guilty of corruption. The opening paragraph of the 1 October statement reveals that,

"The Ernest & Young forensic report confirmed substantial evidence of irregular contracts awarded to Smit Amandla Marine (SAM) or different guises thereof since 1995 until 31 March 2012."

The statement then proceeds to allege gross violations of various South African tender and procurement rules and laws, which amount to corruption. 

Importantly, the statement refers to "the Ernst & Young forensic report". 

However, at a press conference on 2 October 2012 to which the media was invited to witness the Acting DG of the Department, Mr Sipho Ntombela, present the content of the report to Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the Department suddenly changed its tune. Mr Ntombela now refused to even mention the word "corruption" and instead referred to the "preliminary report" just "highlighting 'something' irregular that had happened". And the "Ernst & Young forensic report" suddenly became a "preliminary report" that could not be made public! So why invite the media to the handing over of nothing? And who hands over a "preliminary report" that just highlights "something irregular". And now its just "something"?

And why not make this "Ernst & Young forensic report" (preliminary or otherwise) available if it shows such blatant collusion and tender fraud? It cannot be confidential as the department quotes extensively from it in its 1 October 2012 statement. 

The conduct demonstrated by DAFF officials and its Minister in this matter is indicative of a desperate and urgent personal vendetta against Smit Amandla. But what would motivate such appalling conduct on the part of a Minister and certain of her staff? Why has she involved herself so deeply in the R800 million Sekunjalo tender debacle, leading defamatory and damaging accusations against Smit Amandla and defending Sekunjalo at every opportunity and even declaring them innocent of any wrongdoing before any investigation into the tender debacle had begun (remember her press statement of 21 March)?

We trust that the Public Protector's investigations and report into this matter will reveal the answers. 

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