Free State Wordpress website worth $40, government paid R40 million

04 March 2013 - 18:37 By Yolisa Mkele & Jan Bornman
A screengrab of the Free State government website
A screengrab of the Free State government website

The Free State provincial government said that it paid R40 million for the redesign of their website, not R140 million as reported.

Free State director general, Elzabe Rockman, signed the contract in 2011 to have the website redesigned.

The agreement was signed with businessman Tumi Ntsele, who reportedly holds tenders with several other provincial departments.

The website is based on a free blogging tool called Wordpress, with blogging experts speculating that the theme being used costs just $40 and is called “London Live Wordpress Theme”.

The company supposed to be doing the website redesign, Cherry Online Design, has only recently registered their hosting on Afrihost.com and the website is not yet online.

Once it emerged how much the provincial government was paying for the website people on Twitter expressed their disapproval at the amount of money being spent for the website.

Some of the tweets included:

Arthur Goldstuck @art2gee: Free State DG says province website cost "only" R40m. As disgraceful as tender winner saying critics are anti-black

Sentletse ‏@Sentletse: Building a website isn't rocket science. Free State should explain what exactly R40m was spent on since they deny it's not R140m.

Vida Booysen ‏@Vida1B: Free State govt paid R40m for website but no money for desperately needed road repairs eg R74 Oliviershoek. Have you no shame?

Chris Schumann ‏@cschumann: African corruption at its best The Free State government paid R40m/£2.9m for their website redesign which runs on Wordpress with a $40 Theme

During today the website failed to open returning an error message.