Free State website deal: love me tender

A tender award document shows the province’s website development may have cost in the region of R100m, yet the companies involved appear to exist mainly only on paper. By Craig Wilson.


Tumi Ntsele

The Free State provincial government’s controversial website development may have cost it the region of R100m, according to the tender award document, which TechCentral has in its possession.

This comes after Free State director-general Elzabe Rockman on Monday disputed the figure of R140m quoted by the Sowetan newspaper, saying that the actual figure was closer to R40m.

Yet the companies involved in the joint venture that were awarded the tender — Cherry Online Design, Ikamva and Jugganaut — all lack any substantive online presence.

Cherry Online, the company credited on the integrated Free State government website with the site’s development, is controlled by Bloemfontein businessman Tumi Ntsele, who is also the executive chairman of the Letlaka Group, a media holding company that publishes a newspaper called The Weekly.

Further investigation into the companies involved in the tender suggests that most of them exist on paper only. Cherry Online’s website is a holding page and its Facebook page has little content aside from vitriolic comments from members of the public expressing their disgust at the Free State website tender.

A “whois” domain lookup of the three companies in the winning joint venture, Ikamva, Jugganaut and Cherry Online, show a common thread with Ntsele’s Letlaka: a street address in Bloemfontein. The address — 9 Jaconette, King Edward Road, Willows — points to an inexpensive block of residential flats when viewed in Google Street View.

There was outrage on Monday when the Sowetan broke the news of the province’s online spending. The Democratic Alliance has called for the auditor-general to launch a probe into the deal.

The Free State provincial government has since come out in defence of the expenditure, claiming that the money was used for the development of 38 websites, not just one.

Online publication Gadget on Tuesday revealed the apparent true costs associated with the development project. Its editor, Arthur Goldstuck, who is also MD of research firm World Wide Worx, says the tender award document shows that more money was spent on planning the website than is usually spent on the complete development and roll-out of websites for large companies.

Planning for the project amounted to R9,6m, with design costing the same amount again. In total, simply getting the site up and running cost almost R21m. Content generation, meanwhile, cost a further R8,8m in the last three months of the 2011/2012 financial year alone.

According to Goldstuck’s analysis of the tender award document, the cost for the first year of the three-year project amounted to R33,7m, making for a total project cost of R97,8m.

This makes it even more expensive than the R90m South African Airways spent on a website it abandoned development on in 2001.

Goldstuck says that even the complex South African presidency website cost only R250 000 over four years.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

Share this article

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Has there been a verdict on the charges against him? Has the trial been completed? The answer to both those questions is no and we need to let the law run it’s course.

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Clearly you are a product of a terrible education system when you’re unable to follow a thread of comments and worse still; be unable to identify flawed simplistic mathematical reasoning.

    For your information, I dropped some advice for the web design experts with real solutions to offer right hear on TechCentral regarding my WordPress blog which didn’t even cost me a cent… and to my surprise some of those people pointed out some useful web design considerations and offered cost effective solution for delivering on the requirements for a website such as the one for the Free State province.

    There’s really nothing in what you’ve said that tells me you know anything about wordpress and quite frankly your reasoning, is the worst, of all two brain cell functioning retards who comment on TechCentral.

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Indeed I am.

    I really don’t get why tax payer money should ensure that people placed appropriately on a list, are guaranteed a five year salary for pointing out exactly what the prejudiced people right here on TechCentral are pointing out. In-fact, I appreciate the comments here a whole lot more because no one is being paid and they are genuine concerns.

    The DA “Ego Maniacs” together with the rest of the opposition are simply criticizing to justify being in the assembly… is there nothing better that they can offer, other than that which one can get right here on TechCentral? Their main concern is to fool the public into thinking that there’s something they’re contributing when all of it, is just as obvious to the ANC and government who are in the position to do something about it.

  • Vusi Sibiya

    I pride myself in being versatile enough to rise to the occasion and also stoop as low as is required to bring my point across to others who can’t engage at a higher level. Call it Childish…

  • 4u2discuss

    Unfortunately no.. not Nkandla but rather Diep Sloot

  • 4u2discuss

    Vusi …. Vusi .. please think about what you say, and stop being such a racist ….

    make a plan and send those involved to jail… We know you have the connections, it is obvious in the way you write…

    unless you are really an idiot… and are hiding behind politics and racism….

  • Vusi Sibiya

    I’m very certain that the culprits of this scandal will be made examples of… there’s one thing that we can all agree on and that is corruption cannot be tolerated and the government is definitely committed to ridding itself of this scourge.

  • Kejoy Roberts

    Vusi, Although the anc is the majority, the leadership of the anc is a minority, but they seem to put their own needs first. SARS is merely the petty cash box of the connected anc cadres,(and the not-so-petty cash box too).

  • Vusi Sibiya

    It would appear that there’s without a doubt, individuals who put their own needs first but let’s not discourage those that are committed to making a difference by painting everyone with the same brush.

  • MuziMak

    You’re spoiling a good debate.

  • Joe Citzen

    Would have loved to have seen Ntsele posing in his new prison outfit! Who am I kidding, this is SA, he’ll probably go on to win a few more tenders….

  • Bonginkosi Shiba

    100 Million pissed on Free State website. I could have single-handedly designed a far better website for less than a fraction

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