R16m tender quandary

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in Limpopo yesterday recommended to the legislature that a R16,9 million contract awarded to former head of the department of economic affairs and finance Ben Mphahlele be terminated abruptly.

This follows confirmation that Mphahlele was still employed by government when he was awarded the tender.

The committee also recommended that charges of corruption be investigated into the awarding of the contract.

Mphahlele was awarded a tender of almost R16,9 million last December for the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy project management unit.

He started work on the project on January 8 this year.

The executive council allegedly endorsed the implementation of the project on February 7, 47 days after the tender was awarded.

According to Scopa findings, six companies bid for the tender, which was advertised on September 8 last year.

Samber Trading, which is owned by Mphahlele, put in a bid which was R27 million higher than the other contenders. After the bid evaluation committee had assessed all the tenders, it allegedly cancelled the process and re-advertised it.

It was found that Samber Trading was only registered on September 21 last year, after the tender was first advertised on September 8 of that year.

When the tender was re-advertised on October 6, the original bid evaluation committee was replaced by new people.

At that time, Mphahlele was still in the employ of government. He only resigned on November 1.

In the second bid, Samber Trading bid for a R16,9 million tender. It was short-listed and ultimately won the tender.

Scopa had discovered that during his tenure as HOD for the department, which was responsible for the development of the economy of the province, Mphahlele had failed to implement the very same programme his company had won the tender for.

The committee has further recommended that the money spent on the project be recovered from Samber Trading, Mphahlele's company.