Tender-tampering scam uncoveredComment on this story
Johannesburg - Officials from the Limpopo Human Settlements Department have allegedly tampered with tender documents of some of the bidders for the R900 million housing contracts to eliminate them from the race - in favour of companies owned by Julius Malema’s allies or benefactors.
The Star has learnt that they allegedly withheld the bank guarantees, which resulted in the affected companies being disqualified by the department’s bid evaluation committee for purported failure to meet the requirements.
According to insiders, the department allegedly increased the required bank guarantee from R30 000 to R100 000 to exclude bidders that were not preferred.
It also allegedly advertised the contracts in the government tender bulletin only - and not in national newspapers as was usually the case - to make sure they were accessible only to a few companies.
The apparent tampering with bid documents has forced the adjudication committee to recommend that the evaluation committee give the affected companies a second chance.
“The BEC (bid evaluation committee) should re-evaluate the bidders who were initially disqualified due to the absence of bank performance guarantees, which were subsequently found by the BAC (bid adjudication committee) to be on file,” the BAC said in one of its many recommendations.
However, the department ignored this and other key recommendations of the adjudication committee and awarded R897m in contracts to a string of firms linked to Malema, even though some did not meet the requirements or had a history of poor performance.
The Star has been reliably informed that Limpopo Human Settlements MEC Clifford Motsepe, a close ally of Malema, has summoned senior officials to an urgent meeting this morning in a bid to sniff out those suspected of leaking information to the paper.
Tseng Diale, spokeswoman of the Limpopo Human Settlements Department, has confirmed that the adjudication committee recommended the re-evaluation of certain companies after their bank guarantees resurfaced.
“True, that is in line with the supply-chain management policies,” Diale said.
According to internal documents, 18 of the 55 firms had been ruled out for reasons ranging from “poor performance” and a lack of proven experience to their failure to submit financial statements.
The beneficiaries included known Malema associates such as businessman Selby Manthata and his wife Helen Moreroa, Ali Boshielo, Matome Hlabioa, Collins Foromo and Mohammed Dada.
Hlabioa has already admitted to “sponsoring” a luxury Range Rover worth R1.2m for Malema.
Dada helped to build a Seshego church at Malema’s request.
Boshielo built a house for athlete Caster Semenya’s parents on Malema’s behalf in 2009, while Foromo is the firebrand’s former driver.
Although Dada, Boshielo and Foromo are close to Malema, nothing irregular was found with their bid documents. But the contracts were hastily awarded on December 19 - 24 hours after President Jacob Zuma secured a second term in Mangaung.
Zuma’s victory had sparked widespread speculation that he would “clear” the administration of Malema and Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale’s supporters.
Dated December 21, the adjudication committee’s report showed Hlaboia’s company, MPPJ Property Development cc, did not qualify for the contracts because it didn’t submit CVs of its key personnel.
However, MPPJ was allocated 500 units in Aganang and Molemole in the province’s Capricorn district.
Diale said the department did everything by the book. She added that Hlabioa, Manthata and other Malema associates deserved the contracts.
Yesterday, a fuming Motsepe said: “The companies that have been appointed as contractors for the 2013/2014 financial year have been appointed on the basis of price, track record, ability and a number of other criteria outlined in our procurement policies. It is completely untrue - and defamatory - to suggest that they have been appointed because of who they are friends with.”
He denied that the hasty timing had anything to do with Zuma’s victory, but was part of “forward planning”.
“It is disingenuous to suggest anything sinister in the fact (that) contracts were awarded on December 19,” Motsepe added.
Diale said the department was “in no position to respond to” allegations that the contracts were awarded in the festive season to secure the future of Malema’s allies, in case Zuma fired Mathale in the new year.
Documents also revealed that the department allocated 500 units to Manthata’s firm, Selby Construction, even though the adjudication committee had recommended 300.
“Selby was allocated 500 units in the current financial year, with a total budget in excess of R27m. It has claimed only R17m to date.
Based on this poor performance, an allocation of 300 units is recommended for 2013/14,” read part of the report.
Manthata and Moreroa did not respond to questions sent through Manthata’s personal assistant, Yolanda Breedt, who said they were out of town.
“They left on Monday and are not even taking my calls. They are at a congress.”
Manthata and Moreroa - who are also the business partners of Mathale and his wife, Mokgadi Dolly Kgohloane - are Malema’s co-accused in the criminal case stemming from a R52m project management unit contract.
The contract was fraudulently awarded to On-Point Engineers, a firm linked to Malema, to administer road contracts valued at R6bn.
The couple have been charged with fraud and corruption for allegedly contributing R1m to Malema’s Schuilkraal farm in exchange for road contracts issued by On-Point.
Hlabioa’s phone went unanswered yesterday. At the time of going to press, Boshielo had failed to respond to calls.