AMATHOLE District Municipality’s manager, Chris Magwangqana, may soon have to answer to public protector Thuli Madonsela for the awarding of a R631-million sanitation tender to the Siyenza Group.
Calls have been made for Madonsela to initiate a probe into how the Gauteng-based company was awarded the tender.
DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in the Eastern Cape have written to Madonsela’s office calling for an urgent probe into the tender.
This comes after the revelation by the Saturday Dispatch that the Siyenza Group has links with the families of several high-ranking ANC leaders.
These include ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s wife, Nolwandle, his son, Buyambo, President Jacob Zuma’s son-in-law, Lonwabo Sambudla, and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s son, Boitumelo Itholeng.
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane could not be reached for comment.
The public protector’s spokesman, Oupa Segalwe, confirmed receiving the EFF complaint but could not immediately confirm receiving the DA complaint.
“Like with all new matters, this complaint will be assessed for jurisdiction and merit before the public protector decides whether or not to investigate.
“This process usually takes up to five working days. We are still on the lookout for another complaint,” he said.
Siyenza Group was awarded the tender without going through the supply chain management tender processes.
This was despite the municipality having already appointed four companies to supply material for the project.
Magwangqana had said that due to limited timeframes set by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), another process of appointing – using Section 32 of the supply chain management regulations – was used.
The DBSA has since disputed his claims on timeframes.
In his letter yesterday, Maimane asked Madonsela to investigate the project’s procurement processes.
“I am writing to request an urgent investigation into alleged irregularities surrounding the awarding of a R631-million contract to Siyenza Group,” he says in the letter. He asks her to investigate:
The justification for appointing the Siyenza Group without going to tender;
Why the contract was given to Siyenza despite four existing suppliers having previously been appointed;
Why Siyenza was deemed to be uniquely qualified to build toilets; and
Whether payments to Siyenza correspond with work already completed on the project. Maimane said it was disgraceful that directors at Siyenza had allegedly been splurging on luxury cars and lavish parties while people were going without toilets.
“In the coming weeks, I will be working with the DA Eastern Cape leadership to expose the full extent of this brazen profiteering from government contracts by top-ranking ANC leaders and their family,” he said.
Maimane’s counterpart in the Bhisho legislature, Athol Trollip, said the party was also going to approach the Eastern Cape legislature, National Council of Provinces and the auditor-general to conduct probes into the matter.
EFF provincial convener Simcelile Rubela also called on Madonsela to investigate whether the company had been appointed because of its political links. “The public protector must make it known to the public if the political influence and connections of the individuals attached to this tender have been used to push the municipality to deliberately flout supply chain management policies,” Rubela said.
The Herald’s sister newspaper, the Daily Dispatch, first sent questions to the Amathole District Municipality about the project on January 29 and all nine were answered.
A further 11 questions were then sent but only three were answered. The unanswered questions included:
What the involvement of Mantashe’s wife, Nolwandle, was in the project;
Whether the municipality had verified that the Siyenza Group had the capacity to carry out the work; and
Whether the Siyenza Group had received any money for the work and, if so, how much and for what, and when was it paid.
– Siphe Macanda, Additional reporting by Asanda Nini