‘Tender wars’ raging in Mpumalanga

2016-10-23 06:00
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

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Willy Nkosi (42) has abandoned his house and went into hiding after he escaped an attempted kidnapping and his vehicle, a Citi Golf, was set alight and his house vandalised.

This happened a day after Nkosi had mobilised residents to stage a protest about lack of transparency in the allocation of a R51 million school tender to be built in ward 24 (Daantjie) where he is the ANC branch chairperson.

Despite the fights over tenders, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan this week complimented the way the province’s finances were being run during his visit to the province.

But the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Mpumalanga questioned the compliment that came after the Auditor-General’s report tabled early this week indicated that the province’s departments had not improved in the 2015/16 financial year, citing irregular expenditure that doubled to about R4 billion.

The Auditor-General indicated that government leaders tolerated the flouting of supply chain management as they did not punish miscreants.

The biggest contributors to the R3.97 billion irregular expenditure included the departments of health (R1.919 billion), human settlements (R1.134 billion) and education (R355.8 million).

At least 86% of the irregular expenditure on the contracts involved hospital linen and food, pharmaceuticals, medical waste removal, RDP houses and school nutrition programmes.

Mpumalanga EFF leader Collen Sedibe said Gordhan was not properly informed about the true state of affairs in the province as reflected in the Auditor-General’s report.

They hope to convince him to help put the province under administration.

“If the minister was here for political reasons, he must say so. A man of his calibre cannot say Mpumalanga is run well. His comment is suspicious and makes me doubt him,” Sedibe said.

Police in Mpumalanga are investigating Nkosi’s complaint and cannot say if it is linked to the tenders or not.

“We’re investigating a case of malicious damage to property. The group of men attacked the complainant and he fled.

"His home was vandalised but we’re not sure if this was done by the same group that attacked him,” said provincial police spokesperson Sergeant Gerald Sedibe.

Pienaar is notorious for being crime-infested, but now it has also become a hotbed for political violence and assassinations. Civil activists and some councillors in the area attributed this to a scramble for access to tenders valued at about R200 million.

They are part of developmental projects promised by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza following a series of service delivery protests before the August 3 local government elections.

The projects include two schools, two multipurpose youth centres, regravelling of roads and the installation of high-mast lights and construction of RDP houses.

In May, Nkosi found a truck load of stones dumped in front of his gate – blockading his access. On the same day, an ANC branch deputy chairperson in ward 24, Michael “Zane” Phelembe, was shot dead.

Friends and comrades claimed the killing was a politically motivated strike for his stance on the same issue of tender allocations.

“Phelembe complained about 10 companies owned by outsiders that were being imposed for new road construction and regravelling projects.”

“This war is getting out of hand and it has everything to do with tenders. Certain individuals in the ANC want control of the tenders, which we all agreed when we protested that they should benefit the locals and could be given to outsiders if there is one in Pienaar with the capacity to deliver,” said a councillor who asked not to be named.

Read more on:    eff  |  pravin gordhan

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