Industry sources said yesterday that last week’s suspension of the director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, Mike Mlengana, could open a “Pandora’s box” in an economic sector, which is said to be riddled with dodgy deals.
Mlengana was reportedly suspended because he refused to sign a massive contract with The iFirm, a company owned by two former police generals, Mzwandile Petros and Thulani Ntobela.
Petros is the former police commissioner of Gauteng, while Ntobela held the position in Mpumalanga.
The contract was reportedly put in front of him without the proper tender process for contracts in excess of R500000 being followed. Minister Senzeni Zokwana announced Mlengana’s suspension last Wednesday.
Industry sources said the department had recently awarded a number of tenders under questionable circumstances, including one valued at R150 million, which was given to a preferred company, where a 19-year old sat on the company’s board directors.
Documents supporting the bid showed that 19 year-old had 25-years experience in the fisheries industry.
In another bizarre incident, the department allegedly issued a tender to an organisation that never bid for it and had to approach the courts to cancel the tender.
Department spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said: “We cannot comment further on this matter, pending the outcome of the internal investigations.”
In May this year, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, the Hawks, visited the department’s offices in Pretoria and confiscated a laptop and cellphone belonging to an official.
The department said it was co-operating with the Hawks’ investigation.
Sources said Mlengana’s suspension was the climax of long simmering tensions between him and Zokwana. Mlengana said he knew he would be suspended for refusing to award the tender.