Contractor mulls legal action against Stellies Municipality over awarding of tender
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CAPE TOWN - A local black contractor believes the Stellenbosch Municipality discriminated against his company from Beatrice Nina Group (Pty) when he was disqualified from certain services of a panel tender without concrete reasons, while he had provided the relevant proof he qualified.
Stellenbosch resident Willyford Halala is now consulting his lawyers for possible legal action against the municipality. He claimed his appeal was handled by an official who assumed “multiple conflicting roles” as a member of the Bid Specification Committee, Bid Evaluation Committee and Appeal Authority/Committee, “which placed him in a position where the advice/recommendation he gave in the appeal/review Committee was tainted by a conflict of interest”.
The tender was for pruning, felling and stump-grinding of trees for the period ending June 30, 2024.
Along with five other companies, he was awarded for felling or pruning of trees and emergency pruning or felling of trees but excluded for cutting of Oak trees, felling or pruning under electrical cables and stump grinding, which was only awarded to three companies.
“We were disqualified under category ‘Pruning of felling under electrical cables' whilst we submitted proof of valid ORHVS certificate level 10. We were disqualified under category "Cutting/Pruning Of Oak Trees", whilst we submitted proof of previous experience with Oak trees,” Halala said.
“Furthermore, we were disqualified under the stump grinding category whilst we submitted proof of a safety plan approved by our safety consultant. Although the bid required that the safety plan be approved by the Department of Labour. We were unable to secure an approval from the Department because it takes the attitude that this is not within the scope of its legislated mandate. Hence, the conditions about the approval are accordingly incapable of performance in law.”
Along with his appeals, Halala also filed a PAIA application on November 25 to which he only received approval on January 7, this year.
“They are granting it now because they believe they are escaping liability, because when they reach court they can show they had granted it. Why now after all my emails? We are already in possession of the memorandum accidentally sent to us, which they are aware of. That memo shows that we qualified.
“The prejudice to us is blatant, as the decision to disqualify us was unlawful and our rights to a fair and transparent adjudication and appeal process were violated. They wanted to give these specific services in the tender to these three companies, only while the other services were granted to six companies.”
The municipality meanwhile did not directly answer questions around why the Beatrice Nina Group was disqualified but said all tenders followed an open process and the matter was still being looked into.
“All tenders follow an open and competitive tender process in line with the Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 and as is prescribed by national Supply Chain Management Regulations as well as the municipality’s Supply Chain Management Policy,” said municipality spokesperson Stuart Grobelaar.
He said the official Halala alleged was conflicted, was the senior manager of Community Services, the department that proposed this tender.
“As the manager of the department proposing the tender, he was a member of the Bid Evaluation Committee. The municipality is currently engaging all the relevant stakeholders to reach an amicable resolution on the complaint/objection lodged by the service provider. This process is ongoing and will be finalised and the outcome will be communicated to the service provider,” said Grobelaar.