Agric boss axed because he cancelled R18 mln contract?

2008-02-27 00:00

Could the suspension of the head of the KZN Agriculture Department, advocate Modidima Mannya, be linked to his cancelling an R18 million contract, allegedly linked to certain provincial government figures?

The question was raised this week after discussion on the re-instatement of the contract allegedly came up at the department’s management meeting — the first such meeting since Mannya’s suspension.

According to sources, Mannya not only cancelled the contract, which was allegedly awarded without following government’s tender procedure, but also charged an official allegedly involved in its procurement.

The R18 million contract is allegedly the second awarded to the company without following the due process.

Concerns around the first contract, worth R14 million, which ended up costing the department over R22 million, were also raised by the department’s legal division in June last year.

The Witness understands that advice on the agreement with the company was also sought from KZN’s state attorney, who recommended that the agreement with the company be terminated and that the department follow the procurement procedures and open the project to public tender.

The state attorney felt the present contractor should then be able to compete in the open market with other competitors.

Sources also commented on the timing of Mannya’s suspension last Thursday. They believe this was to prevent him giving details on these contracts in his report to the Agriculture portfolio committee meeting scheduled to take place the next day.

Mannya was not available for comment and his lawyer, Ant Walther, who is handling media queries for his client, was in Port Shepstone yesterday and did not get back to The Witness by the time of going to press.

Agriculture spokesman Mbulelo Baloyi said he could not comment as the company in question is involved in litigation with the department and the matter is sub-judice.

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