teNDER blunder

MPUMALANGA public works head Priscilla Nkwinika has cost taxpayers millions of rands after failing to finalise a telecommunication tender.

MPUMALANGA public works head Priscilla Nkwinika has cost taxpayers millions of rands after failing to finalise a telecommunication tender.

This is according to the integrity management unit investigation report. The report says that the provincial public works department has since 2006 lost a minimum of R582222,90 a month that it would have saved had the Least Cost Routing tender been finalised.

The Syscon and telecommunication tender would have led to the installation of a device which would select the cheapest route when making calls from a landline to a cellphone.

The provincial government spends nearly R1,2million on telephone calls a month and could have saved about R50million had the contract been awarded.

The tender is currently held on a month-to-month basis by a company called KwaMahlanga Connect despite tender processes being followed three times.

In 2006, when Nkwinika was on leave, the bid and adjudication committee recommended that the tender be awarded to Fusion Lowveld.

But when she returned, she removed the company and restarted the tender process. The company has approached the North Gauteng high court alleging unfair treatment.

The integrity management unit has recommended that the department appoint bidders for the tender within 90 days.

"Action should be taken against Nkwinika for failing to ensure that the tender was properly evaluated and adjudicated," reads the report.

This is not the first time that Nkwinika has been in a controversy.

She appointed Lumkani Construction JV Steffanuti Stocks to build a community health centre in Lochiel, Ermelo, for R14million though the average cost of building clinics is about R5million.

While investigators recommended that Nkwinika be charged, Premier David Mabuza instead redeployed her to his office.

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