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Heated disputes rage over the rights to develop lucrative sites

By unknown | Jan 10, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

As South Africa prepares to begin major construction projects around the country, heated disputes are set to erupt over the rights to develop lucrative sites.

Professor Sipho Seepe, academic director at Henley Management College, said that South Africans lived "in a culture of political impunity" and that cases of irregularity in tender processes were rife.

Group coordinator of Afro-centric consultants Dan Mahasha is suing the Johannesburg City Metro Council and the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) for corruption.

Mahasha said that in 2000 his group, trading as African Professional Consortium, was awarded the tender to develop Orlando Power Station into an entertainment and business centre in a deal worth more than R2billion.

Mahasha said the deal fell through when Mayor Amos Masondo took up his post in 2001, and the new administration conspired against him because none of his associates were in alliance with anyone in the mayor's camp.

Seepe said he was not surprised. "In our experimental democracy, we find that people aren't placed in positions of power according to their expertise, but because of their political connections. People in power feel that because they are politically deployed and not by merit, their positions are temporary and that they should get as much as they can while they are still in power," Mahasha said.

"We had already entered into a provisional agreement with the municipality. From there all we had to do was wait for the city [Metro] to complete rezoning procedures. When Masondo came into office, everything was changed and the tender was re-advertised. They already knew who they had in mind."

Mahasha named JPC executive director Leila McKenna and speaker of the Johannesburg Metro council Nkele Ntingane as the main conspirators in ousting his consortium.

Both the JPC and City of Johannesburg declined to comment.

Construction for the Orlando Ekhaya centre began in July last year. The consortium chosen to develop the site consists of Linsela Holdings, Old Mutual Properties, Standard Bank and a new BEE trust formed out of Soweto-based businesses.


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