Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS
Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS

Zwane struggles to explain poor procurement processes in 2010 Free State housing project

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Oct 12, 2020

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Johannesburg - Former Free State Human Settlements MEC Mosebenzi Zwane faced tough questions over questionable procurement processes followed by his department for the approval of contractors in the R1billion housing project in 2010.

Zwane returned to the witness stand on Monday afternoon.

The commission is probing the process followed in appointing 106 contractors to build houses in the province in 2010.

Another issue for the commission were accusations that Zwane had manipulated processes to ensure that a R1bn housing budget was spent within months.

This was following his fears that the national department of human settlements was planning to withdraw the funds due to underspending.

This resulted in over R600m being paid to contractors and suppliers in a prepayment scheme.

Evidence presented at the commission has shown that very few houses were built even though suppliers and contractors were paid.

The records show that the department had an open bidding process open which invited bidders for the housing project. The bids were closed on April 16, 2010.

Zwane then approached a provincial executive meeting on June 30, 2010, with a list of contractors to approve.

That list was filled with old contractors that had previously done businesses with the department, but it was expired.

Evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius put it to Zwane that when exco approved the June 30 list with over 100 contractors it was actually an expired list.

The exco approved the list and gave the go-ahead for houses to be built.

Zwane said he did not know that the list had expired when he presented it to exco.

He also struggled to answer whether he had presented to exco, that besides the old list, another bidding process had been concluded which should also be considered.

"I was not told that the list for 2009/2010 had expired. I was not told because I came there in the department during the year when work was already ongoing.

“It means there was a database already. In 2010 these contractors that were already there and to the best of my recollection the list was going to be used at a later stage (open tender)," Zwane said.

Zwane then went on to sign another list of 106 contractors that were to be appointed for the housing project. He signed the approval letter in September 2010.

Previous witnesses including the former head of the department of human settlements in the Free State, Mpho Mokoena, testified that Zwane had constructed that list of 106 contractors and dictated who should be on the list.

Zwane denied dictating the names on the contractors' list.

"I did not instruct anybody how to construct a list. If that was possible I would never have waited for the process of a tender I would have just drawn up the list," Zwane said.


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