In Limpopo over the past two financial years, multi-million-rand tenders were hardly awarded in a clean, fair and transparent manner.
Official documents show most of the lucrative contracts since the 2010/ 2011 financial year had been awarded irregularly, fraudulently, without being advertised and through nepotism.
The beneficiaries were mostly associates and relatives of Premier Cassel Mathale and his ally, suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
The clique of business people had interests across all sectors of the economy – from health and education to construction, mining and consultancy – and were business partners.
They included Malema’s former business partner Lesiba Gwangwa, Selbie Manthata, Tshepo Malema, Ali Boshielo, Steve Bosch, Jacques Nel, David Mabilu and David Mogale. All the men are friends, business partners and associates of Mathale and Malema.
Manthata is a business partner of Mathale and his wife Mokgadi Dolly Kgohloane in two different companies. Tshepo is Malema’s cousin, Boshielo his friend and Bosch one of the ANCYL chief’s benefactors.
Mabilu, Nel and Mogale are also close to Malema and Mathale. Nel previously boasted that Malema was “my boy”. In turn, Malema publicly endorsed the businessman’s failed bid to become a councillor for the Polokwane suburb of Bendor during the 2011 local government elections.
Last month, freelance journalist Chester Makana was hit with a brick for investigating allegations that fake voting tags were being printed inside Nel’s shop to allow bogus delegates to vote at the Limpopo ANC elective conference.
Here are just some of the expenditure and tenders awarded controversially in Limpopo since the 2010/2011 financial year:
n In June last year, the Limpopo Health Department awarded pharmaceutical tenders worth R314m to companies owned by Tshepo Malema and others without advertising them, as required by National Treasury regulations. Phil Setsiba, senior manager for pharmaceutical services, was later suspended on charges of inflating the quantity of stock needed and the costs involved.
Malema’s 28-year-old cousin Tshepo was among the beneficiaries as he scored contracts worth R44m.
n The Health and Social Development Department awarded a R200m medical waste tender to companies owned by associates of Malema and Mathale. The R4.1m-a-month tender involved the removal, treatment and disposal of medical waste from Limpopo’s 40 hospitals and nearly 400 clinics.
After the tender was repeatedly re-advertised and the bid adjudication committee changed, the tender was awarded to a joint venture comprising two companies, Buhle Waste and Ingwe Waste. Limpopo Medical Waste (LMW), owned by Boshielo and Manthata, was replaced in the joint venture by Ingwe after other bidders complained that it would get the tender through political connections.
David Mogale, Ingwe’s director, is a business partner of Boshielo and Manthata in another company called Limpopo Steam. Losing bidders led by Ian du Randt, the owner of Compass Waste Services, applied for a High Court interdict to set aside the decision because of alleged nepotism, political interference and irregularities.
n The Provincial Roads and Transport Department awarded a R51m project management unit (PMU) tender to On-Point, an engineering firm partly owned by Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust. The contract gave the company control of roads tenders for three years, a service that had been rendered internally since the new dispensation in 1994.
Service providers complained about unfair and corrupt tendering processes as On-Point signed “back-to-back” agreements with contractors which entitled the company to up to 90 percent of the total value of the profit of the contracts it issued.
Madonsela, who is probing the tender, has since instructed the department to suspend the involvement of On-Point in the awarding of tenders pending the outcome of her probe.
n The Provincial Education Department controversially awarded multi-million-rand feeding scheme contracts to mostly politically well-connected people, including certain artists, without advertising them. Former departmental head Benny Boshielo later quit for unspecified reasons amid allegations that he had walked away in protest against being forced to award the tenders and pay the service providers.
n The provincial Roads and Transport Department awarded pothole tenders worth more than R10 million to companies mostly owned by ANCYL members without advertising them.
The contracts, worth between R300 000 and R1.2m each, were issued to hand-picked companies belonging mostly to Seshego-based youth leaders linked to Malema to repair potholes in Maruleng outside Tzaneen.
Some of the companies were paid two weeks after being allocated the tenders, raising questions about whether or not the companies were being treated differently because Limpopo usually took months to pay service providers.
At the time, the department cited urgency as the reason for not advertising the tenders, but Forum of Limpopo Enterpreneurs (Fole) secretary Siviko Mabunda insisted in his written complaint to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that no services had been rendered and the firms had been “paid for doing nothing”. Madonsela has since launched a probe into the tenders.
n The provincial government paid more than five former HODs and CEOs of parastatals, including Jabu Dlamini and Bohane Shabambu, between R400 000 and R1.6m each to vacate their positions with a few months left of their contracts allegedly because they refused to toe the line and award tenders to businessmen linked to Mathale and Malema.
Former provincial director general Nelly Manzini was also paid hundreds of thousands of rand in an out-of-court settlement after taking Mathale to court for unfair dismissal.
n The provincial Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Department paid millions of rand to politically connected businessmen such as Steve Bosch, who failed to complete houses or did shoddy work. Bosch and others later admitted to bank-rolling Malema’s lavish lifestyle and of funding the construction of his mansion in Sandton, Joburg.