Mpisane well runs dry

2015-04-23 00:00

DURBAN businessman Sbu Mpisane has been dealt a major blow, as funds for his Umlazi RDP construction project have run dry.

Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport, the company he owns with wife Shauwn, has secured over R450 million in housing tenders from the eThekwini Municipality.

But now they have met a major snag with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements saying they have run out of funds to complete the projects. This also means no new projects will be initiated.

Platoons of his disgruntled subcontractors took to the streets of Umlazi on Monday morning in protest, blockading parts of Mangosuthu Highway with rocks and branches, in response to their contracts being abruptly ended.

The Mpisanes’ windfall was met with ire after it emerged that the contracts were awarded under Section 36 (emergency regulations) that allowed the normal tender process to be bypassed.

In May last year, she was on trial for allegedly inflating invoices by more than R5 million to cut her tax bill, with the State later withdrawing the charges.

The couple live in an R80 million home in Durban’s affluent La Lucia suburb and boast a fleet of 25 luxury cars.

When approached by News24, Sbu Mpisane first denied the allegations and then later changed his tune, explaining that there was a strike in Umlazi but those that were striking were not employees of Zikhulise.

“We are employed by the municipality and the municipality informed us [earlier this year] that the project needed to stop because province had exhausted all funds to pay for the construction project.

“The city told us that it had not been paid by the provincial government,” said Mpisane.

He said when the municipality ­informed him that funds had run dry, he in turn informed his subcontractors to stop all construction work at the Umlazi construction site.

“That is the reason why the subcontractors marched and told everyone that work had stopped. This is despite us ­informing them that the municipality said that we needed to stop the project because they can’t pay us and in turn we wouldn’t be able to pay them. The city said it would inform us when we can ­continue with the construction,” he ­explained.

He said Zikhulise was working on ­other construction sites and could not divert funds from those projects to the construction in Umlazi.

“It’s a thorny issue and we may have to approach treasury for more funding. I want people to understand that there is no contractor that is guaranteed ­funding; they have to follow tender ­processes and take it from there.

The department’s Mbulelo Baloyi said the MEC would be meeting with the mayor today and that the department was prioritising the issue.

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