Madon­sela flags ‘un­der the ta­ble’ ten­ders

CityPress - - News - STU­ART GRAHAM news@city­press.co.za

The “R6 mil­lion bach­e­lor pads” built for se­cu­rity per­son­nel near Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s home at Nkandla have raised ques­tions about the enor­mous eco­nomic dis­tor­tions caused by “un­der the ta­ble” ten­ders, Public Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela said in Sand­ton on Fri­day.

Madon­sela, who was speak­ing at a cor­po­rate break­fast hosted by the Moshal Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram, said cor­rupt ten­ders cre­ated an “un­level play­ing field” for the gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try.

The Moshal Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram helps stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds who would not oth­er­wise get a bur­sary and ob­tain high-qual­ity, sought-af­ter de­grees that lead to suc­cess­ful ca­reers. The pro­gramme pro­vides fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance, soft skills and men­tor­ing.

“When the media was talk­ing about bach­e­lor pads for sol­diers, I said: ‘Have you seen those three-bed­room houses? They cost R6 mil­lion per house,’” Madon­sela said.

“This is not an ano­maly. It is a sys­temic prob­lem when it comes to these con­tracts or ten­ders that are is­sued un­der the ta­ble.”

Madon­sela vis­ited Zuma’s home in Nkandla as part of her in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether state money was abused for se­cu­rity up­grades at the es­tate.

In 2014, she found that Pres­i­dent Zuma and his fam­ily un­duly ben­e­fited from the R246 mil­lion pro­ject to up­grade his home. Ques­tions were also raised about 21 houses built for se­cu­rity per­son­nel on the out­skirts of the prop­erty, which cost R6 mil­lion each.

Madon­sela said cor­rupt busi­nesses “do not pay kick­backs from their own pock­ets”.

“Their ar­range­ment is to in­flate ten­ders or con­tracts be­yond recog­ni­tion. Some­thing for R20 mil­lion will be R20 bil­lion,” she said.

Madon­sela said the risks at­tached to cor­rup­tion were enor­mous for busi­nesses.

Of­ten, a com­pany that has been in­volved in a cor­rupt ten­der will have a pro­ject in place, but will have to stop it when a law­suit emerges or the Public Pro­tec­tor will make a find­ing against it.

“You are granted the ten­der to­day. You have all your ducks in a row, but as you take on the pro­ject, a law­suit starts or we pro­nounce against it,” Madon­sela said.

The cost of cor­rupt ten­ders to busi­ness, how­ever, was “noth­ing” com­pared with the cost to gov­ern­ment.

“It makes the cost of public sec­tor gov­ern­ment pro­hib­i­tive,” Madon­sela said.

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