IFP alleges murky food contract with Zuma’s ex

2010-02-16 00:00

THE official opposition in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has disputed that the multimillion rand catering contract in the local parliament was awarded to the Pietermaritzburg mother of two of President Jacob Zuma’s children on merit.

In a statement released yesterday, the IFP said that in the the 2008/2009 financial year, Bucebo General Trading, a company owned by the children’s mother, Nonkululeko Mhlongo, was awarded a contract to the value of R1 303 671 for catering for snacks and lunches at the provincial legislature.

“The R1,3-million in question is part of the legislature’s irregular expenditure of R19 017 025 for catering during that financial year,” said IFP KZN public accounts spokesman Dr Lionel Mtshali.

Mtshali said the legislature broke the law by awarding the catering tender to Mhlongo and another bidder before the expiry of the 21-day period for review of all bids. The tender was not advertised in the Government Gazette as required by Treasury regulations.

“This leads us to believe that Bucebo General Trading received preferential treatment from the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, which did not ensure that all bidding proposals for the catering tender were considered fairly and advertised properly for public scrutiny,” said Mtshali.

Mtshali’s comments follow a report in a KZN newspaper yesterday asserting that the contract was awarded on merit.

The presidency and Zuma’s backers said the two children he has with Mhlongo are among the 20 and that he is supporting his offspring.

Zuma’s private life was thrust into the spotlight recently when it was discovered that the polygamist president has a child out of wedlock with soccer boss Irvin Khoza’s daughter, Sonono. The child brings the number of his children to 20.

The report yesterday quoted the chief operations officer in the legislature, Bongani Sibisi, as saying the tender was made public and bid for by 53 bidders and that Mhlongo’s selection was above board. The newspaper said Zuma’s relationship with Mhlongo took place during the period that his wife Kate committed suicide and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma divorced him.

 

The Democratic Alliance also questioned Mhlongo’s catering contract, stating that it believes that further investigation is required into the controversial award of the tender.

The DA caucus leader in the legislature, John Steenhuisen, said that during the course of the 2008/2009 financial year, the legislature incurred a massive amount of irregular expenditure.

“This over-expenditure largely consisted of catering contracts for the members’ dining room and other legislature events. Bucebo General Trading CC, owned by Mhlongo, was a recipient of one or more of these contracts.”

Steenhuisen said his party would like further scrutiny of the circumstances that led to the award of the contract, as its information suggests that several tender regulations and procedures were violated when making this award. “The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature needs to make a full disclosure on how this particular close corporation came to be awarded the catering contract …” he said.

 

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