DA alleges preferential treatment in contract

2014-04-04 00:00

THE Democratic Alliance has cried foul play after the eThekwini City Council extended a multi-million rand contract to a company of which MEC for Co-operative Governance Nomusa Dube’s husband, Sibusiso Ncube, is a director.

In addition, the DA has also expressed concern as another director in the same company — Afriscan Construction — is Rajan Naidoo. Naidoo is a close associate, former business partner and lawyer to controversial Durban businessman Jay Singh.

The MEC’s office has distanced itself from any insinuation that Ncube has received preferential treatment, saying Ncube is a businessman in his own right. Ncube owns several businesses, including Enforce Security.

The MEC’s spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said she does not involve herself in the business affairs of her husband.

“Neither is the MEC involved in the eThekwini supply chain matters.

“Her husband is an accomplished businessman who has earned his stripes in the business arena. We find it mischievous that an attempt is made to drag the MEC into matters that have nothing to do with her.”

But the DA has said the extension is simply “lining the pockets of the politically connected” and has dismissed the metro’s rationale as to why it amended the contract.

In October 2013, Afriscan was awarded a R71 million contract for “engineering services for 641 sites” in the residential component of the Cornubia mixed-use development which is expected to be under constant construction for the next 18 years.

Cornubia will comprise of residential, industrial and commercial sectors linking up with the Dube Tradeport.

According to this week’s executive council agenda, the amended scope, at an additional cost of R20 million, will include “the construction of a bus route to link the residential and industrial park”.

The council said that when the initial contract was issued, “funds for the link road were not available” but now they were and construction “should be implemented immediately as it provides direct access for residents residing in Cornubia to job opportunities”.

In the council’s final recommendation, it asked the executive committee to support the proposal “that deals with fast-tracking” the link road.

DA eThekwini caucus leader Zwakhele Mncwango said there are no valid reasons for the non-tendering of this contract.

“City manager S’bu Sithole claims the extension need not be tendered for as Afriscan are already on site and the constructed road will give residents easy access to the industrial park for employment purposes,” said Mncwango.

“Sithole’s latter reason is purely presumptuous and unless he can present a report confirming that Cornubia residents are guaranteed jobs at the industrial park the DA will continue to view it as such.”

This is not the first time eThekwini Metro has extended a contract at the Cornubia project — scheduled to be opened officially by President Jacob Zuma on Sunday.

In October 2013, the council approved the extension of a contract to Gralio Precast — owned by Singh and currently the subject of a commission of inquiry after a mall in Tongaat the company was building collapsed, killing two people and injuring 29. The change of scope saw the contract grow from R142 million to R176 million.

In both instances the council applied Section 116(3) of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The section of the act allows the municipality to extend an existing contract only once it has been agreed upon by council and the community has been given time to respond. The affected parties must comment on the contract extension by April 11.

Cogta spokesperson Mabaso said it was “unfortunate” that the MEC had been brought into this matter.

“Her husband has always been a businessman and conducts business throughout the country. Dube has a good track record of fighting corruption,” said Mabaso.

Neither the city nor Naidoo had responded to questions at the time of going to press.

Ncube could not be contacted.

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