R140 million for government WordPress website

A three year contract to redesign the Free State website will reportedly cost R140-million, the Sowetan reported on Monday

By - March 4, 2013
Government money small

The Free State provincial government spent R140 million on its website, it was reported on Monday, and a quick check reveals that the site is running on the open source WordPress platform.

Free State director general Elzabe Rockman signed a three-year contract to redesign the website in 2011, the Sowetan newspaper reported.

She had reportedly disputed the amount, claiming it was actually R40m.

The agreement was signed with businessman Tumi Ntsele, who reportedly holds tenders with several other provincial departments.

The Sowetan reported that the company was awarded the tender even though two other companies submitted significantly lower bids.

Etienne Bruwer, owner of web development company Jam Factory, told the newspaper the amount charged for the website was “ridiculous”.

“The company that is working on that site is probably making R3.5m profit a month,” he said.

Bruwer said the most paid for a website was R12m, by financial institutions which needed to protect sensitive information.

Ntsele told the newspaper opposition parties had an agenda against black businessmen and that the website’s cost was fair.

Update: The DA has issued a statement calling for a probe into the scandal. The full statement follows below.

The DA has asked the Auditor General to investigate Premier Ace Magashule’s abuse of R140 million for a Free State government website.

This follows a Sowetan exposé that Premier Magashule awarded a contract to businessman Tumi Ntsele to build the most expensive website in the history of South Africa.

The channelling of millions of public funds into propaganda projects is bigger than just this website, the DA recently revealed.

Premier Magashule is running a campaign to buy media influence and enriching his comrades in business at the same time.

The DA recently revealed how Premier Magashule spent R12 million on his own television channel in the last financial year.

The contract for Hlasela TV was awarded to the same person as the website tender, Mr Ntsele, a politically-connected businessman.

Mr Ntsele’s Letlaka Group also runs The Weekly newspaper which has long been propped up by Free State government funding, just like the New Age.

The DA previously revealed that the Premier’s Office is planning to roll-out a further 3 new propaganda newspapers in the Free State using public funds.

It is unacceptable that public funds are being used to prop up the image of a failing Premier while basic service delivery collapses in the Free State.

The DA will continue to campaign for the cancellation of these propaganda projects and for all irregularities to be investigated.

Reporting with Sapa

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