R1m tender bungle

JON HOUZET

A MUNICIPAL administration bungle over a R3-million photocopier tender has resulted in the Grahamstown High Court setting aside the tender and ordering Ndlambe to begin the process from scratch. 

In the meantime, ratepayers have forked out R30 000 more a month for a contract the municipality initially resolved should go to a different bidder. 

Ultimately, the 36-month contract could cost the municipality R1-million more than it should have, had it heeded its own bid adjudication committee. 

Ndenza OA, an East London-based Canon equipment supplier, took the municipality to court to disclose the tender process after questioning the outcome. 

Ndenza was one of 17 companies which bid for a contract to supply copier machines to Ndlambe, after a tender notice in 2010. It was also on the shortlist of the final five bidders. 

The bid evaluation committee recommended that Konica Minolta be considered as the successful service provider, as they had the lowest bid at R2,38-million (excl VAT) for a 36 month contract. 

A problem arose when the bid evaluation committee confused Konica Minolta SA (PE) with Sky Metro trading as Konica Minolta and instead of mentioning the original Konica Minolta bid of R2,38-million), inserted Sky Metro’s bid of R3,2-million (excl VAT), minuted in a meeting on September 14, 2010. 

The bid adjudication committee subsequently corrected this error in a meeting on September 16, 2010, resolving to go with Konica Minolta at their original bid of R2,38-million. 

But another error was made by former corporate services director Thandeka Mali in a letter on May 24, 2011, in which she wrote to Sky Metro awarding them the tender, but at the original Konica Minolta bid (not Sky Metro’s higher bid). This translates into R66 304 (excl VAT) a month for a 36 month contract. The price included “free air conditioner and computers”. 

But when the undated master rental agreement was finally signed by municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni, it was with Sky Metro and at another amount, R95 000 a month (excl VAT). This was even higher than Sky Metro’s actual bid. 

Ndenza OA sales director Sean Kelly told TotT his company was “not comfortable with the way the tender was awarded”. Ndenza had asked the municipality to provide information on the awarding of the tender, “but they refused so we went to court”. 

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. 

Municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa said council would have to meet on the matter before he could comment.

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