The bizarre case of Brand South Africa website going dead and the CEO pointing fingers his entity’s former communications agency service provider is turning into a David and Goliath battle unheard of in communications circles.
Last Friday BrandSA chief executive Dr Kingsley Makhubela confidently told The Citizen within 24 hours the website would be back to the virtual world after being offline since the 31st January, 2018.
Speaking from the mining indaba in Cape Town this after, Makhubela, a former director-general of tourism, admitted he missed the self-imposed turnaround period, and went off on a tangent against the boutique black-owned communications agency that previously managed www.brandsouthafrica.com
Zibusiso Mkwanazi, the founder of the business that won ‘Medium Advertising Agency of the Year 2016’, is no shrinking violet. He countered almost all of Makhubela’s accusations against his company.
“We gave them all the files. We handed them over to the digital manager Madalane Ngobeni. It was the last day of January at our offices,” Mkhwanazi said. He also accused his client of being unreasonable and undermining the complexity of the project, claiming they were only given “three days” to hand over everything.
Mkhwanazi is highly doubtful of Makhubela’s contention that the contract and service level agreement was explicit that upon expiration, his company should have identified a hosting provider Brand South African can utilise: “In this country there are only specialised companies that host, it’s the nature of telecoms and many service providers subcontract to hosting companies.”
Mkhwanazi also questioned why he was being portrayed as an entrepreneur who would throw his toys out of the cot by sabotaging a client with whom he has bid for the current contract. He also wondered why if his company’s bid was found to be excessively overpriced, BrandSA’s officials did not simply negotiate with his company.
Makhubela admitted that after the initial tender process was cancelled, another one was initiated in December. He denied negligence or ineptitude from BrandSA side, insisting that as the “third line”, he will only be informed once the tendering process has gone through bid evaluation and pitching stages.
“It turned out that our former service provider did not provide the new service provider with information. On Friday the hosting company assisting us said they can do the transfer of data only once they have received permission from the former service provider.
“We have two options. They can put it on a ‘stiffy’, and they can upload according to dates, or do direct transfer. It is information from the last three years and they [communications agency] have to give permission to the company that is hosting, by tomorrow hopefully we will back online,” said Makhubela.
When it was pointed out BrandSA had a responsibility to manage contracts with service providers, Makhubela responded: “They seem to have held on to this information … I even asked the team to write to them, the handover can’t take place over five days. They have had enough time to do it.”
Makhubela said they had to go as far as employing an “expert” to guide them during the tendering process, and conceded this drama did not cast his entity in a positive light. He also said he told the company negotiating with the agency would mean the process was not transparent.
Out of interest, The Citizen asked how long the contract was and how much was budgeted to run the website? R45 million over five years, Makhubela disclosed.