Telkom under fire

Telkom pic MARIANNE SCHWANKHART.  06.09.07
Telkom pic MARIANNE SCHWANKHART. 06.09.07

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Pressure continued to mount on Telkom on Friday when the director of a disgruntled telecommunications company vowed to take the parastatal back to court over tender irregularities.

A director at Maredi Telecoms said he would take action against Telkom after its failure to block a R2billion contract awarded to Ericsson last year.

In December Telkom awarded the R2billion tender for the installation of a point-to-point microwave system to Telsaf and Ericsson in a 60/40percent split.

The remaining two bidders, Maredi and Mobex, were both dismissed by Telkom for failing to meet tender requirements.

After the initial announcement, Maredi chief executive Takashi Utsomiya said Telkom's tender committee had not given a valid reason for the rejection of his company's bid.

Two weeks ago Telkom and Maredi Telecoms squared off in the North Gauteng High Court, where Maredi sought to block Telkom from signing a commercial agreement with Telsaf and Ericsson.

The High Court dismissed that application, with Judge Brian Southwood saying Maredi's case was weak and it had approached the court with a case based on documents that seemed to have been obtained wrongfully.

He did, however, say in his judgment: "It seems clear that whether it was faulty test equipment or faulty tender equipment, Ericsson failed the physical test phase and for that reason alone should have been disqualified from the tender.

"It also seems clear that there were improper communication between Ericsson and Telkom's former head of network provisioning Marius Mostert that probably resulted in Ericsson having a second opportunity to demonstrate its equipment.

"This shows bias in favour of Ericsson on the part of Telkom that is procedurally unfair vis-à-vis the other short-listed bidders who were not disqualified," Southwood said.

The Maredi director said he was angry that his company was being pushed to the side.

He said: "Our tender prices were better than Ericsson's, and it's the public that pays so that Telkom executives can live an extra luxurious lifestyle.

"We will be making another application to have the tender blocked. We don't even want damages, we just want to do the work," he said.