Gumede’s DRC tender raises questions

2011-12-12 07:44

A company owned by South ­African IT billionaire Robert Gumede won a multimillion-dollar tender to print ballot papers for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), yet he doesn’t own a ­printing company.

Instead, Gumede’s Four Rivers Trading 21, of which he became the sole director in June last year, ­subcontracted the tender to four printing companies, including Ran-Form and Paarl Media.

These two companies printed the DRC’s ballots in 2006.

Incumbent President Joseph ­Kabila was announced the re­elected president this week.

The late printing and delivery of ballots is said to have contributed to a logistical nightmare that saw voting being extended.

Gumede’s spokesperson, who confirmed that the businessman did not own a printing company, said Four Rivers “won a legitimate contract” with a limited time-frame for delivery but managed to complete the job in time.

Gumede was “not in a position to talk” about the ­contract because he had signed ­“confidentiality agreements”.

Paarl Media and Ran-Form both referred City Press to Four Rivers for comment. In 2006, the ballot printing tender was valued at R400 million.

Supporters of the DRC’s main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, use the fact that ballots were printed in South Africa to back their claims that the country assisted Kabila in rigging the vote.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was responsible for transporting ballot papers from Johannesburg to the DRC.

Anelka Masudi, a leader of the DRC Youth in Diaspora, said their sources who worked for Four ­Rivers confirmed that extra ballot papers were printed and marked.

Gumede’s spokesperson said the purported ballot papers floating in Johannesburg could have been “sample ballot papers” before the actual ballots were printed.

The SANDF’s Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi denied that any of the ballots transported by the military were tampered with.
The Electoral Commission could not be reached for comment.
 

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