Answers lead to more questions

NDLAMBE municipality has come up with an explanation for the more than R700 000 contracts awarded to four builders for their identical quotations for RDP house improvements in Nemato, and the apparent lack of a tender process.

TotT reported on the matter two weeks ago. According to their appointment letters, three of the builders, Boykie Nelson, Siphiwo Matomela and Sydney Mlamla, were each to be paid R824 957.28, including VAT and a retention amount, "as per (their) quotation”, while a fourth, Gerald Ncamiso, was to be paid R723 646.74, which is the same amount excluding VAT. This is apparently because Ncamiso is not VAT-certified.

An allegation was also made that the four men got the contracts because they are ANC members.

Last week municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa forwarded responses from infrastructural development director Xolani Masiza.

Masiza said the project was advertised for tender on municipal notice boards (Notice no 108/2011) across Ndlambe on November 9 2011 and closed on November 23 2011 at 12 noon.

Contrary to what was stated on the appointment letters, Masiza said the four builders did not quote the same amount and the process was done as follows:

"The agreement was that the scope of works should be broken into components in order to appoint a minimum of four SMME's (small, micro and medium enterprises). We then took the lowest quotations and ones who met all the requirement. The average of the four tenderers was the amount awarded to the contractors.”

Masiza denied the men got the contracts because of party affiliation.

He said the project, funded by the Department of Human Settlements, was to improve 211 RDP units, "the remainder of 1 057 units which Maxam Construction did not complete due to insufficient funds”. The four builders have been given six months to complete the project.

DA caucus leader Ross Purdon said his party was conducting its own investigation and had other questions arising from Masiza's answers, including whether advertising only on the notice board at the municipal office suffices for the supply chain management (SCM) policy, and how it came to be that Maxam Construction ran out of funds.

We would add to these questions: Is averaging of quotations to split a contract equally among four builders also in line with SCM policy and does it reflect good business practice? And does SCM policy allow the awarding of such a large tender to someone who is not VAT-certified?

- Jon Houzet