Media Statement - 04 February 2013
As MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement & Traditional Affairs (CoGHSTA), I wholeheartedly embrace the principle of the media’s freedom of expression, and am committed to ensuring that there is full transparency in how we do our work.
However, as head of the government department entrusted with providing homes for the homeless of our province, I cannot let The Star’s coverage of human settlements delivery (Limpopo’s R897m shame, 1 February 2013) go uncontested.
The article is riddled with innuendos and baseless conspiracy theories. It is completely false, and attempts to create the impression that almost every aspect of service delivery in Limpopo is politicised, and that service delivery is purely about feathering the nests of a select group of politicians and businessmen.
It is not journalism, it is thumb-sucking and finger-pointing masquerading as journalism. It does a disservice to The Star, its readers, and the people of our province. It also insults the intelligence, integrity and commitment of the public servants who burn the midnight oil ensuring that homes are provided to the poor, the contractors who work so hard to ensure that quality homes are constructed within budget and on time, and the workers who build those homes, brick by brick, window by window, door by door.
All this through the ill-informed, mischievous and dishonest splashing of some political paint by a reporter who seems to thrive on adding up one and one and getting one hundred.
First, let us deal with the facts – or, in this case, the non-facts – that are assembled in the article:
- The companies that have been appointed as contractors for the 2013/14 financial year have been appointed on the basis of price, track record, ability and a number of other criteria outlined in our procurement policies. It is completely untrue – and defamatory -- to suggest that they have been appointed because of who they are friends with, and we challenge The Star to substantiate this claim by anything other than innuendo.
- It is disingenuous to suggest anything sinister in the fact contracts were awarded on 19 December 2012, "24 hours after President Zuma secure a second term in Mangaung”. The department was at work throughout the festive season – because of its commitment to ensuring service delivery – and we had a job to complete, just as we have done in previous years. The date in question is a working day, is it not? Or does The Star suggest our department shuts down during any events of a political nature, to ensure we are not accused of some or other political activity?
- The image of the article is further compromised by the contradiction it contains. It lashes out at the following contractors; Dada, Boshielo and Foromo among others, but later on exonerates them from any condemnation by saying, "although Dada, Boshielo & Foromo are close to Malema, nothing irregular was found with their bid documents.”
It for this reason that we say to The Star, and the reporter: You are talking nonsense. Your article is rubbish.
Now let us look at the facts:
- For the past four years, Limpopo’s Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement & Traditional Affairs (CoGHSTA) has been ranked as the Best Human Settlements Department in the country.
- During this period, the department has collected 30 service excellence awards, including accolades from renowned institutions like the Southern African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
- The cornerstone of this success is compliance with the "forward planning standard” set out in the National Housing Code, which ensures the appointment of housing contractors in advance of the next financial year, so that there is sufficient time to assess project proposals, appoints project contractors, and assign the necessary financial resources.
- In addition, the department has ensured compliance with a robust and thorough set of accounting and good governance rules – in particular, the Public Finance Management Act.
By now, we are sure there is a fat file of complaints against the author of the article in question. Please add this complaint to that list. Over the past few years, your reporter has become renowned in the province – and, increasingly, nationally – for never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. By now, the countless number of corrections and apologies that newspapers have been required to publish far overshadows the number of awards this reporter has been able to garner.
Even though his allegations are clearly without substance, we are ready and willing to let any law enforcement authorities -- including the Public Protector –investigate the allegations he has made.
We remain an open book. We have nothing to hide, and we are committed to complete transparency and openness in terms of how we go about our work.
But we wonder if your reporter could say the same?
Nkomotane Clifford Motsepe
Member of Executive Council (Department of Cooperative Governance Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs)