Home Affairs cancels R4-billion GijimaAst deal
It took the South African Revenue Service's e-filing department just four weeks to set up an IT system that billionaire Robert Gumede's company GijimaAst failed to in two years.
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The department of home affairs confirmed yesterday that it has cancelled its R4-billion contract with GijimaAst after the company failed to meet deadlines.
There is also an ongoing investigation into circumstances that led to Gumede, a businessman with close ties to ANC leaders including President Jacob Zuma, being awarded the lucrative deal in 2008.
The contract, which was initially worth R1.5-billion, had escalated to R4-billion by the start of this year. It is understood that GijimaAst has already been paid between R300-million and R400-million for the project.
However, six weeks ago, GijimaAst told the department it would not be able to deliver the "Who Am I Online " IT system before the start of the 2010 World Cup.
The system is intended to computerise the manual processing of visas, permits and other operations of the department.
This would make it possible for prospective World Cup visitors to apply for visas online.
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma appealed to Sars for help after GijimaAst informed the department that it would not be able to meet its targets.
A source said Dlamini-Zuma had become "tired" of the delays by GijimaAST.
GijimaAst confirmed yesterday that the contract has been cancelled, saying it received a letter stating the department believed the deal to be invalid.
Despite the cancellation of the contract, parliament's standing committee on public accounts will grill department officials, including former director-general Mavuso Msimang, about the deal today.
It is understood that a forensic investigation is under way into the awarding of the contract by the State Information Technology Agency. Msimang was CEO of the agency when the deal was signed.
An official, who didn't want to be named, said: "They [GijimaAst] came to the minister and said they won't be ready for the World Cup. We had to work with home affairs to build the system. It is now being piloted at OR Tambo since Monday."
The system will then be implemented at 34 priority ports of entry before the World Cup, Dlamini-Zuma reported to parliament on Wednesday. In her budget speech, she also confirmed that Sars was now the new service provider.
In a statement yesterday, GijimaAst said it received the Home Affairs letter on Tuesday and insisted that the contract was valid and enforceable.
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