Armscor dissatisfied with Vistula enquiry

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The Department of Defence’s Armscor equipment acquisition agency has informed the trade union Solidarity is “not satisfied” with the outcome of a disciplinary hearing that exonerated two senior project officers from blame for the loss of R12.2 million after a project to acquire about 1200 trucks for R3.2 billion ran off the road. 
Project Vistula programme manager Flippie van der Walt and team leader Jan Venter demanded oral and written apologies from the parastatal after being cleared by a disciplinary hearing in November.    
Their Solidarity representative Jahni Cowley says the duo is still waiting for the state to say sorry after the hearing`s presiding officer, Imraan Haffegee of Tokiso, an independent dispute resolution company, found that the charges against them were vague, confusing and not proven on the facts.  
The Afrikaans daily Beeld reported in November that the two had been charged with negligence regarding the evaluation of the vehicles shortlisted for Vistula, a key SA Army rejuvenation project. They were further accused of bringing Armscor`s name into disrepute.
The paper says an evaluation of the three bids on the shortlist was completed in November 2005 and was subsequently approved at various levels within the Defence Secretariat.  
An anonymous complaint over the process followed then led to three separate forensic investigations, first by the Inspector General of the DoD, then the government Auditor General and lastly by forensic investigation company Ngubane.
Beeld reported the first two investigations found no irregularities while the Ngubane probe apparently did find “faults” that led to Van der Walt and Venter`s removal from the project team.
Armscor`s latest Annual Report states the scrapping of the short list cost the agency R12.2 million in legal and other costs.
Evidence presented at the hearing showed the evaluation process had complied with 89% of the requirements and that the few deviations from procedure were neither critical nor to the benefit or disadvantage of any of the bidders.   
The Ngubane report, however, was not part of the 3000 pages of evidence tabled at the hearing and during the hearing Armscor only referred to 10 of those 3000 pages.
  
Haffegee accordingly found Armscor`s case “extremely weak” and said he could find not find them guilty on the evidence.
The men then lodged a grievance at the company demanding that Armscor`s board as well as several senior managers apologise in writing, provide them a copy of the Ngubane report and give the assurance the matter will not have an influence on their further career at Armscor. The company must also inform industry of the outcome of the hearing and reinstate them in their posts.
Cowley says the men now wish to press ahead with their grievance.
She adds that Armscor`s board will meet next week and will likely discuss the matter. The labour representative says it is not clear whether the agency will attempt to hold a new hearing or appeal the outcome of the November proceeding. She notes the first would amount to double jeopardy.     
[defenceWeb was unable to reach Armscor for a response to this report]