MTN, Vodacom lock horns over contract

Telecommunications giants MTN and Vodacom are in a bitter legal war over a Transnet tender worth millions of rands.

The two corporate heavyweights have locked horns over a contract to supply Transnet employees with cellphones, airtime and data.

Now MTN has gone to court to interdict the parastatal from finalising the appointment of its rival, claiming that the process was not fair.

According to an affidavit deposed by MTN general manager for enterprise sales Aluwani Mpho Mphelo, the firm was disqualified from the bid after allegedly failing to complete pricing schedules as demanded by Transnet in bidding for the tender.

However, the company said the disqualification came as a shock because there was no change in how they filled their pricing schedule compared to 2015 when they won the project at Transnet.

The papers indicate that MTN challenged the outcome of the bid adjudication committee by registering a complaint and an application to review the decision to disqualify it with the Transnet procurement ombudsman.

However, the body ruled against MTN, instructing the state-owned entity to proceed with the tender, much to the disappointment of the network provider.

Also central to MTN's application are allegations it made against Vodacom and Transnet, claiming that they both reneged on their promise to wait for the outcome of the review application before finalising Vodacom's appointment as a successful bidder of the tender.

MTN claimed in its papers that the two companies secretly signed an agreement confirming Vodacom as the new service provider of mobile voice and data solutions at Transnet.

Image: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Vodacom, through its lawyers Edward Nathan Sonnenberg, fought back against MTN in a letter dated January 30 written by Senzo Mbatha. In the letter, Mbatha accused MTN of applying a delaying tactics to its court battle.

The network provider accused its rival of trying to stall the court case to ensure the delay in its final appointment by Transnet while also trying to score itself a contract extension.

Vodacom spokesman Byron Kennedy confirmed knowledge of the court application by MTN to have its contract with Transnet set side.

"Yes, Vodacom and Transnet have entered into a contract for the supply of voice and data services. The process was transparent and fair. As a matter of fact, MTN complained about the alleged irregularities to the Transnet ombud and its complaint was dismissed," said Kennedy.

Spokeswoman for MTN Jacqui O'Sullivan said: "MTN can confirm the court application and that the matter is at an advanced stage. We respect the legal process and would prefer to allow it to run its course prior to commenting on the matter."

Spokesman for Transnet Molatwane Likhethe said Transnet would be opposing MTN's legal application.

Likhethe said that MTN's contract with it would be expiring on March 9.

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