LIVE FEED: State capture inquiry, February 7, 2020
The Zondo commission will on Friday morning continue hearing evidence related to state-owned airline South African Airways Technical (SAAT).
The former head of procurement at South African Airways Technical (SAAT) Nontsasa Memela. Her name has been mentioned frequently in evidence presented at the commission this week.
The commission has been focused on testimony related to SAAT, which forms part of SA Airways and deals with technical support for the national airline and maintenance of its aircraft.
On Thursday, the commission heard evidence from Schalk Hendrick Human, the acting head of department for supply chain management for (SAAT).
Human spoke about SAAT's attempts to secure a supplier for aviation components through a tender that was advertised five times. The process was marred with irregularities.
The company had a contract with Air France in 2012 and it was due to expire. SAAT then issued a tender notice requesting bidders. Two bidders were chosen which spilt the tender, but the SAAT board later recommended that the tender process be halted as it was only interested in choosing one supplier.
The same tender was re-advertised in 2014 with a closing date of 2015. This same tender was later halted because the board had decided to negotiate a partnership agreement with US-based AAR Aviation, which also supplies aviation products. AAR had been the same company that had also submitted a tender application to be considered for the components tender.
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Human said what was unusual about this tender process was that an official from AAR, Cheryl Jackson had been in touch with SAA CEO at the time Nico Bezuidenhout.
He said it was unusual for a supplier to be in touch with the company while a tender process was underway.
"Miss Jackson (AAR) approached Nico Bezuidenhout who was acting CEO of SAA at the time. She thanked him for a meeting they had. At the time the board had not stopped the tender. Jackson proposed a partnership tender proposal while the tender process was underway. This is very unusual as it goes against the policy of SAA and SAAT," he said.
Human also highlighted the irregularities regarding a trip to visit AAR's facilities in Chicago, USA, and Miami. A few board members were invited by AAR on the trip including then SAAT head of procurement Advocate Nontsasa Memela and board chairperson Yakhe Kwinana. He said this trip took place at around the same when tender processes were still in place, which made it unusual. Another irregular aspect was that even if the site visit was part of the tender evaluation process, SAAT board members would not be the ones required to attend the site visit.
Kwinana has submitted an affidavit to the commission disputing the account that visits AAR's sites in the USA were irregular.
The tender was later re-issued in 2015 and bidders were invited. SAAT's cross-functional team assessed the bids and settled on recommending Air France for the components tenders for its fleet. When the recommendation was sent to the board in July 2016, the board decided on appointing AAR although it was never the preferred bidder.'IOL