Did this man bankrupt Limpopo?

2012-01-28 18:25

A Limpopo tycoon is at the centre of a growing row in the bankrupt province over a health information system contract which cost taxpayers a quarter of a billion rand and has never worked.

Kingsley Duba and his company, LHC Health Solutions, scored a R265 million tender nearly six years ago to install the provincial health information system – intended to provide a province-wide digital health record system for all hospitals, clinics and patients – which is still not yet fully operational.

The deal is among dozens of contracts under investigation and which have contributed to the province’s more than R2 billion financial hole.

Duba and his companies are not new to controversy.

In 2006 he was awarded a R323 million deal to house the then local government and housing department (now public works offices).

The department was at the time headed by his business partner and former ANC Limpopo executive member, Sam Rampedi.

Rampedi left the department following allegations of sexual harassment and went into fulltime business shortly after Duba’s company scored the office deal.

According to the Auditor-General’s report on the province, payments of R265 million to LHC Health Solutions made between 2006 and 2010 for the implementation of a provincial health information system are under investigation, as the project still has not been implemented.

The tender was controversial right from the start. The losing bidder, Business Connexions, applied for – and won – an urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court in 2006 to stay the implementation of LHC’s contract, as it had tendered R121 million less than LHC for the project.

The company later abandoned an application to have the award reviewed, allowing LHC’s contract to go ahead.

Business Connexions pointed out in pleadings before the court that LHC was only formed in November 2005.

Gandi Jacob Moetlo, then-deputy chair of Limpopo’s tender bid committee, countered that Business Connexions system did “not cater for the rigorous requirements of the department” and did not comply with requirements set out in the bid.

Business Connextions’ system had been running successfully in 11 Northern Cape hospitals since 2001.

Furthermore, the technology LHC would supply was based on software that had formed part of a previous information project that had failed and wasted R193 million.

The AG’s report fingers the province’s health and education departments as the main culprits in bankrupting the province.

LHC Health Solutions attorney, Corlett Manaka, denied that his client didn’t complete the work and said that by 2009 the system was operational, but that government employees couldn’t operate it and it that was never maintained.

He said the department still owed the company R26 million with interest for services rendered and played down the accusation that their deal also contributed to the department’s financial woes.

He said his client couldn’t comment on the AG’s report and the internal investigation into the awarding of the tender.

Duba did not respond to requests for further comment about the controversial office deal and Rampedi also did not respond to repeated calls and SMSes requesting comment.

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