Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - City Power has legally extricated itself from a R1.5billion contract that it awarded irregularly.

A draft order prepared by City Power lawyers was made an order of the court on Tuesday as none of the 61 companies cited as respondents opposed its application.

City Power went to court to obtain a protected right to cancel the labour contract, which was awarded to a panel of  60 companies for technical work in its facilities.

The contract was such that the companies would be on standby for maintenance work.

Advocate Steven Budlender, counsel for the City of Joburg-owned entity in the matter, arrived at the South Gauteng High Court with a prepared draft order.

He asked the court to make the draft an order of the court, as per standard when a matter is unopposed.

“There has been no opposition from anyone. The matter is unopposed,” Budlender told the court.

The court obliged, giving the green-light to cancel the contract and open a new tender process.

Said Budlender: “A new invitation (to bidders) will follow shortly.”

The labour contract was already declared invalid in May after a company that was excluded won against City Power in court.  

Infinite Blue Trading, the excluded group, dragged the entity to court on grounds that its officials awarded the contract irregularly.

Infinite learnt in December that its bid had been rejected, while those of the 60 companies were accepted.

Ruling in favour of Infinite, Judge Roland Sutherland said: “There are clear irregularities in the (tender process) scoring.

“In my view, the pattern gives rise to a reasonable suspicion of deliberate manipulation of the process to improperly exclude the applicant (Infinite), and perhaps others too.”

Judge Sutherland directed the City of Joburg to look into the conduct of the personnel responsible for the bid.

This should aim to find if a lack of integrity or incompetence explained the irregularities, he said.

Lerato Setshedi, City Power’s chief executive, said the city was investigating the irregularities, with a view to “bring those responsible to book”.

He said the tendering process would be started from scratch. New successful bidders were expected to be announced in six months’ time.

“We welcome the outcomes of the court for granting an order we requested,” Setshedi said.

“I believe that by starting the process from the beginning, (we) would be avoiding any risk of corrupt activities and would also afford all tendering companies an equal chance to compete fairly for the opportunity to do business with City Power.”

@BonganiNkosi87

The Star