Meet the R7.7m tenderpreneur

2014-02-23 14:01

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Meet Mmaseala Kekana, who at the age of 23 became one of South Africa’s youngest tenderpreneurs – thanks to her mother’s connections.

In 2010, Kekana registered her company, Mmarekhu Retail and Supplies. A few months later, she won a R7.7 million ­contract from Limpopo’s provincial education department to supply food to schools around Mokopane.

Kekana is the daughter of Lily Kekana, the department’s special projects manager who oversees its schools nutrition programme.

Kekana, now 27, who was a student at Free State University when she got the tender, said this week that receiving it had nothing to do with the fact that her ­mother was employed by the department.

“I got the tender because I applied,” she told City Press on Friday.

The contract, she said, was to supply food daily to more than 6 800 pupils around Mokopane. Although her contract expired last June, it was extended until the end of next month because no new service provider has been appointed.

Kekana refused to answer questions about how many schools her company supplies, how many people she employs, the profit she has made from the contract and even which course she was enrolled in at Free State University.

Pushed for answers, she claimed she was busy and cut the call.

Kekana is not the only one of her mother’s relatives who have ­benefited from the schools nutrition tender.

Lily Kekana’s brother, Mabitsela Sebelebele, received a R5.6?million tender. Like his niece, he also said the fact that his sister was employed there had nothing to do with it.

“I didn’t even know where she was working. I knew that she was employed by the department of education, but I don’t know what she does there.” Sebelebele supplies pupils from nine schools around Mokopane with food.

Lily Kekana refused to comment and ­referred all queries to the education department.

Department spokesperson Phuti Seloba said the tenders received by Kekana’s relatives were under investigation, as was how a university student could have received such a lucrative contract.

Kekana and Sebelebele’s contracts were awarded in 2011 and expired last June. In July a tender for new service providers was advertised, but by September, the tender had still not been awarded and it lapsed.

Their contracts were extended twice and lapse at the end of March.

Seloba said the department was hit with a lawsuit just before the tender was awarded, stalling the process.

“We had to wait for the finality of the matter before we could start with the bid-evaluation process.”

The tender, to supply food to more than 4?000 schools in the province, will be “awarded as soon as possible”, he said.

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