Heads roll for Afcon tender cheat

2014-12-28 15:00

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Mbombela’s municipal manager has finally been given the boot because of procurement irregularities during the hosting of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Xolani Mzobe becomes the second boss of Mpumalanga’s capital city to be sacked because of corrupt dealings in organising a soccer event.

Mzobe, who was suspended in October last year, was fired last week, together with community services director Rasheed Matola, after a committee found that some of the tenders for the tournament that cost the city R35.5?million were improperly handled.

Mbombela hosted matches involving Zambia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Togo and Tunisia, and was allocated R31.5 million by National Treasury and R4 million by the province.

Mbombela spokesperson Joseph Ngala declined to provide details about what led to the dismissal of the two, except to say it was an outcome of an investigation by the Mpumalanga department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta).

“We can’t give details because they still have a right to take the matter for review. Even the report about their dismissal was given verbally to the council. It is in connection with irregularities in the Afcon procurements.”

Mzobe, who was suspended with three years and nine months left on his contract, was not available for comment. Matola, however, said he would lodge a dispute of unfair dismissal.

“I’m taking it for review because everything from the start was wrong, including my suspension and the kangaroo court [disciplinary hearing], but I won’t give details,” he said.

City Press has, however, seen documents showing that some irregularities involved one company that falsely claimed to have paid community radio stations R1.5 million to promote the tournament.

In another case, the municipality’s bid adjudication committee apparently refused to adjudicate two tenders after noting that bid documents had been tampered with. Prices – read documents produced by the committee – were inflated on catering tenders. One company had its bidding price of R128?495 inflated to R200 000, while another had its price increased from R100 890 to R214 890.

Documents of companies that bade for the R10 million marketing tender show that certain pages on their bids had not been stamped and approved, an indication of possible tampering.

Mzobe’s dismissal, however, smacks of political interference. Before former Cogta MEC Simon Skhosana commissioned an investigation, the ANC’s Ehlanzeni division was instructing councillors to force Mzobe to resign. Most refused because no reasons were given. They also feared that the municipality would have to pay Mzobe more than R3 million if he was forced out.

The councillors also protested because corruption-riddled municipalities, such as Nkomazi and Thaba Chweu, were provided with support teams instead of being placed under investigation or administration, despite the fact that they had received disclaimers on their audits.

In 2008, former Mbombela manager Jacob Dladla was fired after a string of tender irregularities involving the construction of the town’s R1.2 billion World Cup stadium.

Four years later, the Ehlanzeni ANC instructed its councillors to drop the guilty verdict against Dladla and pay him about R1.5 million in compensation.

Dladla also faced charges of fraud and corruption valued at R920 million on the stadium tenders, along with Kaizer Chiefs boss Bobby Motaung and businessmen Herbert Theledi, Chris Grip, Tebogo Kubeka and Michael Romanos.

The high-profile case was withdrawn last year due to bungling by the National Prosecuting Authority.

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