Makwetla fingered in Tender scandal

FORMER Mpumalanga premier Thabang Makwetla and two senior officials failed to intervene after being informed that millions of taxpayers' money was being wasted.

FORMER Mpumalanga premier Thabang Makwetla and two senior officials failed to intervene after being informed that millions of taxpayers' money was being wasted.

This relates to a delayed awarding of a telecommunications tender.

Makwetla, former director-general Khaya Ngema and former public works MEC Madala Masuku could be summoned to testify in the North Gauteng high court in a case brought by a businessman against the provincial government.

Director of Fusion Lowveld Ben Erasmus is taking the provincial government to court, alleging unfair treatment after his company was turned down at the eleventh hour despite being the preferred bidder.

Erasmus said he wrote several letters to Makwetla and Ngema after informing Masuku about Priscilla Nkwinika's unilateral change of decision to award the R20million tender to him, but they failed to act.

Makwetla has since been appointed deputy minister of defence and military vetarans, while Ngema is now the Erkuruleni municipality city manager.

Nkwinika was head of the provincial public works department at the time.

Erasmus alleges that Nkwinika refused to implement a decision by the bid adjudication committee that recommended that his company be awarded the three-year contract.

"The above tender was recommended for award to ourselves by the bid evaluation committee, bid adjudication committee and the then acting head of the department Mike Khoza, who had full executive powers, pending price negotiation," reads one letter.

"Price negotiation was completed and the next step was simply to award the tender to my company.

"However, Nkwinika allegedly ignored recommendations, supply chain management guidelines, generally accepted practice when she returned from leave.

"Instead, she irregularly appointed consultants and irregularly tried to repeat the evaluation process," Erasmus wrote.

The tender has been advertised five times since 2004, but there is still no finality on awarding it.

Sowetan reported yesterday that the provincial government had since 2005 lost millions of rands due to the delay in awardingthe tender.

The contract would have provided a device to make it easy to select the cheapest route when dialling from a landline to a cellphone.

Makwetla's spokesperson Ntime Skosana said the matter should be raised with the current government.

"Makwetla left the province and any issue that concerns the provincial government has to be handled by the current administration," Skosana said.

Masuku said he could not respond as he was no longer public works MEC. He is now MEC for human settlements.

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