BEE front’s R200m award in more hot water

2012-01-28 20:01

The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) is investigating a Limpopo municipality after it failed to give reasons why a controversial R200 million tender was awarded to an inexperienced but politically connected joint venture.

Mopani District Municipality, which is ­already embroiled in a high court case over the tender, has been mired in controversy since it awarded the water tender to Tlong Re Yeng Trading.

It is a joint venture co-owned by Constance Malebate, the sister of connected Limpopo businessman Selby Manthatha. Manthatha is a business partner and political ally of Premier Cassel Mathale.

The CIDB, a statutory body, gave Mopani until December 21 to explain why the tender was awarded to Malebate’s venture – co-owned by Chinese national Jinpu Lu – whose BEE status has also been questioned.

Malebate only registered her company a few weeks before the joint venture was awarded the contract.

Next month Esorfranki and Cycad Pipelines, the two unsuccessful bidders, will be in the high court for the seventh time in a bid to force the municipality to review the tender.

Last year the municipality re-awarded the R217m tender to the same venture to construct water pipelines for the draught-stricken Giyani area after Esorfranki challenged the tender process in court, alleging “collusion” and “corruption” between the joint venture and the municipality.

But Mopani municipal manager Tim Maake has denied that any such investigation by the CIDB exists or that the board asked for a report on how the tender was adjudicated.

“We have neither received any report nor bear any knowledge of an investigation by the same institution,” said Maake.

Mopani has rejected the claims in court, including allegations that the council should have disqualified the joint venture because it did not have a high enough CIDB grading to do the work.

The council, which lost one of the legal battles at the Supreme Court of Appeal last year, intends approaching the Constitutional Court should it lose next month’s case, according to mayor Joshua Matlou.

CIDB acting chief executive Peter Mongwenyana said the formal inquiry against ­Mopani will begin once the dates have been finalised and it would be open to members of the public. Mongwenyana said they had no idea why Mopani refused to reply to questions.

“The CIDB will not predict what the outcome of the disciplinary inquiry on failure of Mopani District Municipality to submit the report as the circumstances under which this happened is unknown to us,” said Mongwenyana.

However, the CIDB would take action against Mopani only after the high court case has been completed, should the court find it guilty of any wrongdoing concerning the ­tender. 

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