Johannesburg - The public protector’s office will investigate the awarding of a R1.25 billion smart metering contract by the City of Joburg’s City Power unit to Edison Corporation.

The company is owned by Durban businessman and key backer of President Jacob Zuma, Vivian Reddy.

On Monday, the DA said it had received a confirmation letter from the office of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that it would investigate the awarding of the tender.

This comes in the wake of a report in the Mail & Guardian last month, containing allegations that the tender was manipulated to benefit Reddy’s company against the fellow bidding company, Hefcom.

Although the article found that there were no irregularities, the DA submitted a request for an investigation on January 18.

Reddy told The Mercury, The Star’s sister newspaper, that the DA had, in fact, done him “a big favour” by asking the Public Protector to investigate.

“I am 200 percent confident there will be absolutely no finding of any impropriety, and this perception can be put to bed,” he said.

DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane said: “There are a number of troubling questions with this tender that the Public Protector must resolve…

“The Public Protector must now get to work to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible,” he added.

Reddy said he was encouraged that the chief executive of City Power had appointed Ernst & Young and an independent senior counsel to investigate City Power’s internal process of awarding the tender.

The city and its power utility have denied any irregularities in awarding the tender.

“The Mail & Guardian article has categorically stated that their investigations showed there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing by Edison Power or myself in the award of the smart meter contract,” said Reddy. “Our overall bid was considered the most compliant via a very fair and transparent process.”

Reddy lambasted the tendency of what he termed losing “previously advantaged” bidding companies that used “the willing DA via the media” to fight their battles against legitimate black businesses and the government’s empowerment policies.

The Star