Days before kick-off, answers to who cashed in on the millions spent on the Soccer World Cup will finally be forthcoming after the Mail & Guardian and Amabhungane's Adriaan Basson won access to LOC tender documents on Tuesday.
Acting Judge Les Morison ruled in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday afternoon that the World Cup local organising committee (LOC) must provide the M&G and Basson with all tender documents pertaining to contracts awarded for the World Cup and the Confederations Cup within 30 days.
Download the judgement here. (3.7MB)
M&G editor-in-chief Nic Dawes emphasised that the newspaper was not raining on the World Cup parade.
"We're as excited as anyone else about the World Cup, but we think it's crucial that South Africans have a full picture of where the billions of rands spent staging the Cup have been spent, who has benefited and what the nature of the decision-making processes were in that regard," he said following the court decision.
The newspaper's legal battle with the LOC and its chief executive, Danny Jordaan, began over the refusal to release any tender documents relating to the tournament. This included the name of companies to which contracts were given and the value of the tenders.
The LOC contended it is a private body and should not have to comply with the requirements of transparency laid down in public procurement legislation.
However, Morison said that the M&G and the public had no way to know if there was any corruption with the awarding of these tenders if the LOC did not provide them with the tender documents.
"Refusing access to these records would enable the organiser of this event to keep from the public eye documents which may disclose evidence of corruption, graft and incompetence in the organisation of the World Cup, or which may disclose that there has been no such malfeasance," the judge said.
Morison awarded costs to the newspaper.
The court victory was the second in a week in the M&G's battle for access to information.
On Friday North Gauteng High Court Acting Judge L Sapire ordered the Presidency to hand over a confidential report on the 2002 Zimbabwe election to the M&G within seven days, and to pay the costs of the newspaper's court application.
The M&G applied earlier this year for access to a report compiled by judges Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampepe containing their conclusions about the fairness of Zimbabwe's 2002 presidential election.
The M&G contended the report was of enormous public interest, especially given the widespread view that the elections were marred by vote-rigging, intimidation, violence and fraud by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government.
Dawes said that both cases are important as they vindicate our rights of access to information, both as the media and the public.
"[It] sends a message that the Promotion of Access to Information Act is living legislation, rather than a pretty piece of paper," he said.
"We probably should not have had to go to court in either of these cases. We should have been able to succeed on the basis of the legislation. But what these cases do is indicate very clearly to both public and private bodes what their responsibilities are."
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