In the interests of transparency, I would like to update the public on this process. The tender to conduct the lifestyle audits was first advertised shortly after I was sworn in, however, we received no bids and it was therefore re-advertised. During this round, only one bid was received, however the company did not meet the minimum requirements and the tender was subsequently re-advertised for a third time.
During this time, we received a letter from a South African company which indicated that they would not be bidding, as they identified circumstances that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. It has become clear that there is deep concern among private companies of doing legitimate business with government when it falls into a political space.
Several of South Africa's big name audit firms have become embroiled in national controversies as a result of their working relationships with the national government over the past few years.
While we understand that there are risks involved for firms in the current political climate, the Western Cape Government would like to place on record that by conducting lifestyle audits of our most senior politicians, we are seeking to bust any opportunity for corruption, and create a sense of good governance and transparency that has been sorely lacking in South Africa amidst a growing body of evidence of state capture. The Provincial Government of the Western Cape is committed to following due tendering processes, which ensures that the reputations of companies are not exposed to risk.
When I became Premier, I committed to leading a values-driven government. My cabinet colleagues have all consented to the lifestyle audits and we need to get them underway. I believe that the general public, civil society and the private sector all have a role to play in helping to build the kind of society that values honesty, openness and good governance.
We re-advertised again on Friday 18 October 2019, with a closing date of 8 November 2019 and I encourage businesses with the requisite skills and experience and which meet the bid specifications, to submit bids.
I feel very strongly about these audits. If we cannot get it right this time, we may need to consider service providers from the rest of Africa, or from international anti-corruption and transparency organisations to assist us in this regard, while still playing within the rules and laws governing supply chain management and public finances. My hope however, is that we will not have to do this, and that a local company will provide us with these services. If South Africa is to succeed, we need government money to be spent in our own country. This will require a process of rebuilding trust between the public and private sector, and for our part, we are committed to this task.
Aside from these cabinet audits, I am also pleased to announce that all the staff members in my office have recently successfully submitted applications to be vetted by the State Security Agency. Staff members are now currently undergoing the interview processes, which are a thorough screening of their integrity.
The staff in my office acknowledge that while this process delves deeply into their own independent affairs, it signals our commitment to living out the values of integrity and responsibility required of public servants.