Pig­gy­back­ing the way to get the job

No time for pub­lic ten­der pro­cesses – but lots of jobs avail­able to vet­er­ans, stal­warts and com­rades

CityPress - - News - SIPHO MASONDO [email protected]­press.co.za

Um­geni Wa­ter has been rocked by al­le­ga­tions that it has awarded a R220 mil­lion se­cu­rity ten­der to a com­pany with po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions with­out fol­low­ing com­pet­i­tive pub­lic ten­der­ing pro­cesses. Ear­lier this month Um­geni can­celled its month-tomonth con­tract with Ex­celler­ate Ser­vices and handed it to Reshe­bile Avi­a­tion and Pro­tec­tion Ser­vices with­out a ten­der.

The wa­ter com­pany de­cided to pig­gy­back on Reshe­bile’s con­tract with the Air­ports Com­pany SA (Acsa).

To save costs and time, and in emer­gen­cies, Trea­sury al­lows “pig­gy­back­ing”, which per­mits gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties to ap­point a com­pany al­ready con­tracted by an­other depart­ment to de­liver the same ser­vices, at the same cost, terms and con­di­tions, with­out go­ing out to ten­der.

Reshe­bile Avi­a­tion and Pro­tec­tion Ser­vices, which is con­tracted by Acsa to pro­vide se­cu­rity ser­vices in all air­ports across the coun­try, has strong links to the ANC.

ANC vet­eran and for­mer Robben Is­land pris­oner Paul Langa was a direc­tor of the com­pany. Khany­isani Maz­ibuko, a direc­tor at the com­pany, is a for­mer pres­i­den­tial body­guard.

An­other ANC vet­eran, Gertrude Shope, is an ac­tive direc­tor. John Nkadi­meng, an­other stal­wart of the ANC, is a for­mer direc­tor.

A se­nior gov­ern­ment bu­reau­crat who deals with procurement said pig­gy­back­ing is a de­vi­a­tion from nor­mal com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing pro­ce­dures which is strictly re­served for emer­gen­cies.

“Trea­sury is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly con­cerned about the num­ber of ten­ders awarded through pig­gy­back­ing. Trea­sury reg­u­la­tions make pro­vi­sions for pig­gy­back­ing for emer­gency cases. Sec­tion 217 of the Con­sti­tu­tion says pub­lic procurement should be fair, open and trans­par­ent.

“There is no fair­ness, open­ness or trans­parency when con­tracts are awarded via pig­gy­back­ing. It is a gross abuse of the sys­tem,” the bu­reau­crat said.

Shadrack Dladla, an­other direc­tor at Reshe­bile, re­fused to com­ment.

Um­geni’s spokesper­son Shami Harichun­der said Reshe­bile Avi­a­tion and Pro­tec­tion Ser­vices had been con­tracted by Um­geni Wa­ter to pro­vide se­cu­rity ser­vices at its var­i­ous sites.

“This ap­point­ment was made in line with Um­geni Wa­ter’s in­ter­nal sup­ply chain pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures and in terms of Na­tional Trea­sury Reg­u­la­tions,” said Harichun­der.

How­ever, Harichun­der did not re­spond to de­tailed ques­tions, ar­gu­ing that the mat­ter was sub ju­dice.

Af­ter Ex­celler­ate’s con­tract was can­celled, the com­pany rushed to the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court, ask­ing judges to pre­vent Reshe­bile from en­ter­ing Um­geni’s premises and start work­ing.

The com­pany ar­gued that it had a le­git­i­mate month-tomonth con­tract.

The ap­pli­ca­tion was dis­missed on the ba­sis that the mat­ter was not ur­gent.

How­ever, Ex­celler­ate’s chair­per­son Sibu­siso Ncube told City Press that he in­tended launch­ing an­other court bid, seek­ing to force Um­geni to ap­point a se­cu­rity ser­vice provider through an open ten­der.

The com­pany, Ncube said, would seek to re­view and set aside the ap­point­ment of Reshe­bile through pig­gy­back­ing.

Pig­gy­back­ing pro­lif­er­ates

This is the third case in re­cent months in which the prac­tice of pig­gy­back­ing is be­ing chal­lenged in court.

Last month the Gra­ham­stown High Court ruled that a R3 bil­lion con­tract to roll out broad­band in the Eastern Cape was ir­reg­u­lar, il­le­gal and un­law­ful.

The court ac­tion was ini­ti­ated by the State In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Agency (Sita) ear­lier this year af­ter the Eastern Cape provin­cial gov­ern­ment awarded the R3 bil­lion con­tract to Liq­uid Tele­com with­out an open pub­lic ten­der.

The Eastern Cape’s direc­tor-gen­eral Marion Mbi­naMthembu ap­pointed Liq­uid Tele­com by pig­gy­back­ing on a con­tract which the com­pany had with the West­ern Cape provin­cial gov­ern­ment.

How­ever, the court did not set aside the ten­der. It re­quested both Sita and the Eastern Cape gov­ern­ment to file papers, de­tail­ing how they want the mat­ter to be sorted out.

In Feb­ru­ary this year a com­pany called Black­head Con­sult­ing had dragged Sed­ibeng Wa­ter to the Bloem­fontein High Court, seek­ing an or­der to de­clare the wa­ter util­ity’s de­ci­sion to award a R300 mil­lion project through pig­gy­back­ing as il­le­gal and un­law­ful.

The com­pany also wanted the ten­der to be set aside. Around Novem­ber last year Sed­ibeng Wa­ter ap­pointed Pro-Plan Con­sult­ing En­gi­neers, with­out an open pub­lic ten­der, to de­sign and su­per­vise the con­struc­tion of phase two of the Vaal Ga­m­a­gara Wa­ter Scheme.

Black­head is one of the com­pa­nies which had sub­mit­ted bids for the project be­fore Sed­ibeng can­celled the open ten­der process and ap­pointed Pro-Plan through pig­gy­back­ing.

The Vaal Ga­m­a­gara will de­liver bulk wa­ter sup­ply to North­ern Cape and parts of the Free State and North West.

Den of cor­rup­tion

Since Um­geni Wa­ter forced its for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Cyril Gamede out of of­fice 18 months ago the com­pany has been paral­ysed by in­sta­bil­ity and al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion.

A le­gal opin­ion so­licited by Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti in July found that Um­geni had an il­le­gal board.

Um­geni’s board, led by Gab­sie Ma­then­jwa, ap­pointed Thami Hlongwa, who has been act­ing since July last year as per­ma­nent chief ex­ec­u­tive.

This was de­spite Nk­winti hav­ing ad­vised Ma­then­jwa not to ap­point Hlongwa be­cause the board was il­le­gal. Nk­winti had also not ap­proved his salary as re­quired by leg­is­la­tion.

Nk­winti ar­gued that Hlongwa’s ap­point­ment needed to be rat­i­fied by Cabi­net.

In Sep­tem­ber last year Fu­ture Growth, a divi­sion of Old Mu­tual which acts as an agent to a num­ber of com­pa­nies that hold bonds is­sued by Um­geni Wa­ter, threat­ened to with­draw R3 bil­lion worth of bonds if the for­mer wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion min­is­ter, Nomvula Mokonyane, did not stop med­dling with Um­geni’s board.

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