‘In­com­pe­tent’ com­pany bags city ten­ders

It’s al­leged the firm’s owner is the mayor’s friend

The Sunday Independent - - News - SIPHELELE BUTHELEZI AND NABEELAH SHAIKH

CITY of­fi­cials and po­lit­i­cal par­ties have lashed out at the re­cent award­ing of two new ten­ders worth more than R100 mil­lion to a com­pany al­legedly in­volved in ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. The di­rec­tor of Uh­langa Trad­ing Ser­vices signed off on a R97m waste man­age­ment ten­der this week, de­spite be­ing im­pli­cated in a scan­dal in­volv­ing the con­struc­tion of more than 200 toi­lets in im­pov­er­ished ar­eas.

A damn­ing re­port, com­piled in Fe­bru­ary by the city’s in­tegrity and in­ves­tiga­tive unit (CIIU), re­vealed that Uh­langa and three other com­pa­nies were paid in full (R36m) to com­plete the project, but not a sin­gle toi­let had been erected when the CIIU re­port was com­piled.

The re­port also re­vealed that pro­cure­ment pro­ce­dures were al­legedly flouted when the con­tract was awarded.

It was rec­om­mended that a case of fraud and ut­ter­ing be opened with the SAPS.

An­other rec­om­men­da­tion was that Uh­langa and the other com­pa­nies, Magubane Plant and Con­trac­tors, Soundrite Sound and Tem­b­los SA, im­pli­cated in the toi­let ten­der, be black­listed. But Uh­langa con­tin­ued to be re­cip­i­ents of eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity ten­ders.

In Fe­bru­ary, Uh­langa landed an­other R36m ten­der to con­struct an elec­tric­ity sta­tion in the Stocksville area, near Kloof, which was re­vealed in a re­port re­leased by the city’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (Exco).

Hlenga Sibisi, the owner of Uh­langa, said he had not been given ac­cess to the CIIU re­port and there­fore could not com­ment on the rec­om­men­da­tions made in it.

He said the com­pany had pre­vi­ously been asked to meet the CIIU but that hadn’t hap­pened yet. A date was yet to be con­firmed.

Sibisi con­firmed that the waste man­age­ment and elec­tric­ity con­tracts had been awarded to Uh­langa be­cause his com­pany had met the re­quired cri­te­ria.

“Due pro­cesses were fol­lowed and we were awarded the ten­der fairly. Those con­tracts were signed many months ago. My com­pany is not black­listed and I have al­ways been com­pli­ant with ten­der pro­cesses.

“We can­not com­ment on what po­lit­i­cal par­ties are say­ing or the city’s in­ter­nal pro­cesses.”

Asked about al­le­ga­tions that he had landed city ten­ders be­cause of his friend­ship with eThek­wini mayor Zandile Gumede, Sibisi said: “Zandile has been a coun­cil­lor for many years and I am a mem­ber of the ANC. How can I not know her?

“But that has noth­ing to do with ten­ders be­cause my bids were fair.”

The DA’s cau­cus leader in the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Ni­cole Gra­ham, said her party was con­cerned about Sibisi’s deal­ings with the city and has sent a writ­ten en­quiry to city trea­surer Kr­ish Ku­mar to ob­tain clar­ity.

Gra­ham said the DA no­ticed in an Exco doc­u­ment that af­ter a foren­sic au­dit had been con­ducted and rec­om­men­da­tions were made that Uh­langa be black­listed, the com­pany was still awarded a ten­der.

“I have writ­ten to Kr­ish (Ku­mar) and An­dré Petersen (head of the city’s sup­ply chain man­age­ment) for clar­ity on what they in­tend to do about Uh­langa’s black­list­ing and how the (elec­tric­ity sta­tion) con­tract was awarded,” said Gra­ham.

“We need to find out what has been the progress and if the city has con­sid­ered black­list­ing all the com­pa­nies which were named in the foren­sic re­port,” she said.

A source within the mu­nic­i­pal­ity said the two of­fi­cials who were re­spon­si­ble for award­ing the toi­let ten­der were back at work and they had al­legedly not faced a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing as had been rec­om­mended.

Mdu Nkosi of the IFP laid the blame for the nu­mer­ous ten­der ir­reg­u­lar­ity al­le­ga­tions at the feet of the city’s bid­ding ad­ju­di­ca­tion com­mit­tee (BAC) and the trea­surer (Ku­mar).

“I al­ways ques­tion how Kr­ish (Ku­mar) made pay­ments to com­pa­nies he very well knew ought to be black­listed.

“I also don’t un­der­stand how the BAC con­tin­ues to award ten­ders to such com­pa­nies, in spite of the rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The first prob­lem is that the CIIU re­port has never been sub­mit­ted to Exco for mem­bers to scru­ti­nise and en­sure rec­om­men­da­tions are im­ple­mented.”

The city had not com­mented at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

GUMEDE HAS BEEN A COUN­CIL­LOR FOR YEARS. HOW CAN I NOT KNOW HER?

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