Hidden from the public

MUCH was discussed in last week’s final council meeting on the budget for 2012/2013, and ratepayers will be happy about a small reprieve on the rates and service charge increase, but one matter was glaringly absent.

The public has still not been informed on the municipality actions following a High Court judgment which overturned a flawed R3-million photocopier tender.

A rival bidder for the tender took the municipality to court after questioning how the contract could have been awarded to Sky Metro, a Konica Minolta dealer, at R1-million more than the lowest bid by Konica Minolta SA (PE), which is an official importer of Konica Minolta equipment.

In court papers it was also revealed that municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni awarded the contract to Sky Metro for R3,42-million, R200 000 more than they actually bid.

In what appears to have been administrative bungling, the bid evaluation committee recommended that Konica Minolta SA (PE) be awarded the contract, but at the price quoted by Sky Metro.

The bid adjudication committee corrected the error, but another error was made by former corporate services director Thandeka Mali who sent a letter to Sky Metro awarding them the tender, but at the original Konica Minolta bid of R2,38-million.

All of these prices exclude VAT.

On April 26, Judge Judith Roberson ruled that the tender awarded to Sky Metro be set aside and Ndlambe begin the tender process anew. She further ordered that Ndlambe and Dumezweni jointly and severally pay the costs of the case.

Questioned about the tender at the budget imbizo in early May, mayor Sipho Tandani promised that the matter would be addressed at the next council meeting at the end of May.

Pressed by Ndlambe Action Group chairman Derek Victor that the matter not be hidden in green paper (for councillors’ and officials’ eyes only), Tandani agreed. “It would infringe the public’s right to know,” he said.

Since then two full council meetings have come and gone without a word being said about the matter.

But TotT heard it was on green paper at last week’s council meeting.

This writer asked the DA to comment, seeing it was the DA which first brought the matter to light.

DA caucus leader Ross Purdon responded.

“I can confirm that this item was discussed under green,” he said. “I am not allowed to divulge what was discussed though. Obviously there are legal ramifications and we are alsoconcerned about the legal costs. Thisissue is now out of the hands of the DA. We will, however,continue monitoringthe process closely.”

I also asked municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa to reply to my earlier questions on the issue, and to comment on the mayor’s apparent failure to keep his word.

“It is not true that the mayor has not kept his promise,” Mbolekwa replied. “You must understand that the full sitting of council is only per quarter hence the matter was tabled at the last council meeting.

“It was on green (and) it will remain there until the council has satisfied itself with the matter. We are also mindful of the fact that there are names involved. We would not want the municipality to get litigation, but ultimately the matter will be put on white paper for members of the public.”

– Jon Houzet

Leave a Reply

Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment moderation policy. Your email address is required but will not be published.