The chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has clarified why a government building has not been used as the venue for the commission.
Ahead of the second part of the final day of testimony by former GCIS head Mzwanele Manyi on Tuesday, Zondo clarified that, after his appointment as the commission’s chair, he had instructed those tasked with sourcing a venue for the commission to give preference to government venues, in order to reduce costs.
The departments of public works and justice, assisted by the commission’s secretary, were tasked with finding a venue for the inquiry.
Zondo said he had been informed that various government venues were inspected and, for one reason or the other, were either unsuitable or unavailable.
The venues considered, Zondo said, included the Tshwane municipal building, Centurion, Kempton Park Civic Centre and Emoyeni Conference Centre, Parktown and the Johannesburg State Theatre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
“I just want to make it clear that this commission and public works and the department of justice did not simply go for a privately owned building without exploring the possibility of saving costs and using a government venue,” Zondo said.
The Economic Freedom Fighters have questioned how the Hill on Empire building (which is the headquarters of Tiso Blackstar but also has venue-hire facilities) was able to procure the commission’s patronage.
A letter from the EFF, signed off by deputy president Floyd Shivambu, asks Zondo several questions about the procurement of the Hill on Empire venue in Parktown.
In the letter, the EFF demanded information on how the bidding process to host the inquiry was facilitated:
- Was there an open tender for the Hill on Empire, Parktown, Johannesburg, where the commission of inquiry into state capture is taking place?
If it was an open tender:
- When was it advertised?
- How many bidders responded?
- What was the bidding price for each bidder and where was the building being offered by each bidder?
If there was no open tender:
- How was the building procured as a venue?
- To date, how much has the service provider been paid? Details per month.
- Should the commission go on for a duration of 12 months, how much would be the total cost for the venue and how much would be the total cost over a period of 24 months?
The EFF urged the deputy chief justice for urgent feedback.
Zondo acknowledged receiving the EFF’s queries. In a letter, he said the matters of procurement were dealt with by the secretary of the commission, Dr De Wee.
He said he had handed the EFF’s letter to De Wee who would soon contact the EFF.
– Additional reporting, Gopolang Chawane