Pretoria - The board of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says it has been subjected to “public vilification, intense emotional blackmail and veiled intimidation” after cancelling R17 billion worth of tenders due to irregularities.
Without mentioning names, the board, chaired by Themba Mhambi, said its detractors name-dropped President Cyril Ramaphosa’s name by accusing it of having cancelled “presidential projects”.
In a statement released on Monday, the agency’s board said it was told that the projects should have been referred to the National Treasury and its political head, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, after it found matters of concern with procurement processes.
At the centre of the saga is infrastructure company Raubex Group Ltd, one of the bidders which allegedly stood to benefit from the irregular contracts. The company has threatened to take Sanral to court for cancelling the contracts.
This came after Sanral and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced the cancellation of five tenders for critical road infrastructure projects, citing irregularities in the tender process.
This has allegedly created tension between Mbalula and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The board said the subtext of the attacks against its members was that they have undermined “these important people and structures” by not endorsing the proposed awards, and therefore must be dealt with “as brainless, delinquent and intransigent children”.
“In shameless and selfish efforts to turn the South African public against us, we have been presented as killers of the construction industry and portrayed as suppressors of job creation. What is deliberately hidden from the public is that we have, in two tenders, thwarted the very killing part of that industry and the suppression of job creation for ordinary people,” said the board statement.
They said the board was frustrated by the total irregular exclusion of subcontracting in the Mtentu tendon contract and the reduction by a massive 50% of the routine 30% subcontracting in the Gauteng Improvement Freeway Project tender.
The board said this exclusion and reduction – which were decided by unauthorised individuals and structures without board approval – amounted to subcontractors (SMMEs of designated groups) being denied and deprived of R2bn in business opportunities and related job opportunities.
The Sanral board rejected claims that it was “killing the industry”.
The board said over the past three years Sanral had awarded R50bn worth of contracts.
“One of the leaders of the attack on this board has received during the said three years, 21% of the R27bn awarded in construction contractor jobs. Some of the major players in the industry have, as recently as last week, announced maintaining a record order book, thanks in part to Sanral tenders.”