Airport tender sham

2012-11-26 00:00

A HIGH court judge used the words “farcical,” “disingenous and at worst dishonest,” to describe the Msunduzi Municipality’s handling of a tender for the management of the Pietermaritzburg Airport.

The Witness recently came into possession of a court judgment document in which Judge Rishi Seegobin set aside a decision taken by the municipality not to award the contract to Indiza Airport Management.

He ordered the municipality to award the tender to the company within a month and to pay all Indiza’s costs.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the municipality would appeal the judgment.

The saga started in December 2010 when the municipality advertised a contract for the management of the Pietermaritzburg Airport.

Indiza, which also manages the Richards Bay and Virginia airports, was one of six bidders. The contract was awarded to Joint Venture (a company that comprised Virtual Consulting Engineering and Delta Facilities.)

Indiza lodged an objection on the basis that Joint Venture was incorrectly scored.

The chairman of the objection hearing, Petros Madiba, ruled that there had been errors in the process.

He said the tender had to go back to the bid evaluation and adjudication committees for correction.

The Bid Evaluation Committee subsequently recommended that Indiza get the contract.

However, acting municipal manager (MM) Thokozani Maseko cancelled and re-advertised the contract.

Seegobin said what was surprising was that the decision to re- advertise the tender was taken even before Madiba’s findings were made known. The judge said that to add insult to injury, the municipality failed to inform Indiza timeously of this development.

He said it appeared as though the municipality’s reasons for re-advertising the contract were an afterthought crafted to challenge Indiza’s court application.

“Had the reasons existed at the time they could have been included in the letter of 7th September 2011 [to Indiza], which merely records that the tender was cancelled due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.”

The municipality argued in court that it had cancelled the initial contract because its specifications had not been approved by the municipal manager, as required by law.

The municipality also argued that the contract had been compromised because of a breach of confidentiality.

Seegobin questioned why the municipal manager did not cancel the contract as soon as it was advertised.

He said the manger must have known all about the contract as it was advertised in the newspapers and details were on the council’s own website. He found it strange that the contract was only cancelled after the objection hearing.Seegobin also said the specifications in the re-advertised tender were no different from the one cancelled bar that the re-advertised tender had lowered expertise and experience criteria.

The judge said tenderers spend huge amounts of money in preparing their tender proposals and in making presentations, if required to do so.

“Tenderers are accordingly entitled to expect that all internal processes have been complied with.

“For the respondent to now claim as justification for cancelling the 2011 tender … that it was not approved by its municipal manager before publication, is at best, in my view disingenuous and at worst dishonest,” Seegobin said.

The judge did not accept the breach of confidentiality argument either.

He said the municipality relied on an e-mail where a staff member, who lacked experience in dealing with tenders of this nature had asked the Pietermaritzburg airport manager at the time — an Indiza employee — for a list of specifications that could be included in the tender document.

“For the respondent to now claim that this amounted to a breach of confidentiality on the part of some of its own members, justifying the cancellation of the tender is in my view, rather disingenuous...none of this was drawn to the attention of the applicant or for that matter to any of the bidders during the tender process,’ Seegobin said.

Joint Venture, which won the bid, was later disqualified on the basis that it had submitted only one tax clearance certificate, for Virtual Consulting Engineers, and none for Delta Facilities.

Despite Indiza being the only bidder left standing, it did not get the tender.

Seegobin found that the decision to cancel the contract was procedurally unfair, arbitrary and irrational and was not remotely connected to all the information that existed at the time.He said the municipality charged with a public function and using public funds was required to act in responsible, fair and transparent manner at all times.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.