DA hands dossier to Public Protector Vulindlela housing probe

2011-07-25 00:00

IT seems that more than one complaint about the controversial Vulindlela housing development may have been lodged with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The Sunday Tribune reported yesterday that Madonsela’s office received a complaint last Friday, while the Democratic Alliance said it handed over a 400-page dossier on the housing project this past Friday to the offices of the Public Protector and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in the province.

The Witness believes that a complaint to the Public Protector was also lodged by disgruntled Vulindlela community members.

Madonsela’s spokesperson, Kgalalelo Masibi, told the Sunday newspaper that the Public Protector will assess the complaint and consult the SIU before deciding whether there should be a joint investigation or whether the matter should be deferred to the SIU.

DA human settlement spokesperson George Mari said his party’s submission included a detailed account on the process used by the province’s Human Settlement Department to award the R2 billion tender to the Vulindlela Development Association (VDA) and the company that will be running the project, Dezzo Holdings.

Mari said the submission received inputs from sources within the department, who have spoken on condition of anonymity, as well as legal opinion on the tender.

He said allegations in the dossier include:

• Human Settlement MEC Maggie Govender allegedly misled the KZN Legislature.

In her budget speech in April 2011, claimed Mari, Govender said the project was in a pre-feasibility stage. Mari added that the DA has since discovered that at the time of the MEC’s announcement agreements had already been signed between the KZN Department of Human Settlements (HS) and the Vulindlela association on March 8 and March 29, 2011. “This pre-dates her budget speech claim that the project was at a pre-feasibility stage,” he added.

• Human Settlement allegedly boycotted a meeting called by Msunduzi Municipality to action its own housing projects for Vulindlela and instead allegedly pressured the municipality to cancel its own tenders and support the VDA initiative.

• The department advertised for proposals for a pre-feasibility study for the project in December 2010, during the builders’ holiday.

Nevertheless many implementing agents worked through the holiday to submit proposals, only to find that by January, the department had cancelled the proposal call.

• A second tender for the project was advertised in February 2011.

A compulsory tender briefing session was to take place on February 16 and about 40 aspiiring parties arrived, some from Johannesburg.

No officials were there from Human Settlement and it was learnt that the compulsory tender meeting had been cancelled without notice.

The DA asked the investigators to probe the relationship between the VDA and Dezzo Holdings, which has politically connected directors, including KZN Legislature member Sipho Gcabashe and former Msunduzi mayor Hloni Zondi, who is the project director.

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