A Northern Cape doctor escaped being blacklisted from trading with the State after pleading ignorance. This came after he was found to have been awarded a contract after submitting two bids for the provision of the same service.
This emerged when Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu responded in writing to parliamentary questions from IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe enquired about the specific projects of the South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) in which service providers submitted more than one bid.
The question arose after last month’s portfolio committee report noted that there were service providers that submitted more than one bid for Sassa projects.
Zulu said the matter related to the tender advertised by the Northern Cape Sassa offices, which called for health professionals and firms to tender for contracts to perform disability assessments.
She said the tender was done to specifically to address the shortage of medical doctors who can perform disability assessments and clear backlogs.
“Only one service provider responded by submitting two bids - one as an individual medical practitioner and the other as a director of a medical company - to render disability assessment services.
“During the Auditor General of South Africa Regulatory Audit, the region concurred that the bidder had omitted to disclose on the applicable supply chain management disclosure forms that both bids had one director and were bidding for the same tender,” she said.
Zulu also said that, had the doctor disclosed this information, both bids would have been disqualified in the first place.
“The contract was subsequently cancelled in line with the National Treasury’s irregular expenditure framework. The region disclosed payments already made amounting to R83 000 as irregular expenditure,” she said.
Zulu also said the contract was cancelled following an investigation and a legal opinion that was obtained.
“The affected medical doctor/director indicated that this omission was an honest mistake,” she said.
Zulu also said the region did not suffer any financial losses as a result.
“Furthermore, the outcome of the investigation did not necessitate the restriction of the bidder and subsequent publication of the investigation report on the National Treasury website, in cases where it is confirmed there was an abuse of the supply chain management system,” she said.