Premier denies cronyism

2010-02-23 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize yesterday dismissed as “biased, irresponsible and misleading” reports that his family is cashing on “juicy contracts” worth millions of rands from the government.

The Sunday Tribune reported that Bookize Supply Corporation cc, partly owned by Mkhize’s daughter Nokulinda Mkhize and wife Dr May Mashego, secured government tenders worth R3,3 million.

The report added that there are unconfirmed reports that companies Nokulinda is involved with are raking in millions of rands in provincial government tenders, including catering, transport for the media attending government functions and communications work. Two companies, Inity and Aweh, were also listed as companies in which Nokulinda owns 100% and 50%, respectively.

At a press conference in Durban yesterday, Mkhize challenged anyone with information on provincial tenders held by members of his family to share the documents with the public.

“In the article, several unfounded, baseless and inaccurate allegations were made regarding business interests of the family.

“We highlight that at no point has this entity (Bookize) secured work through ‘connections’ as none of its business transactions have been at a provincial level, where I hold the premier’s office, and I was never involved in any of the business activities of the company.

“Bookize is an entity that pursues business opportunities from all sectors. It has not procured any work in the KZN province. It was recently awarded a tender by the Department of Correctional Services, which is a national tender. Dr Mashego and Linda Mkhize believe that there is no conflict of interest in pursuing work from national government,” Mkhize said.

Mkhize said Bookize had bid for tenders nationally before and had been unsuccessful. The premier said that prior to the publication of the report, the newspaper was furnished with responses to all questions it had raised, but opted to ignore that and instead published information that is unfounded and undermines the facts given.

Mkhize confirmed that Nokulinda owns Inity and Aweh, but said they are now dormant and never received any tenders from the government.

“I challenge the Sunday Tribune to produce documentary evidence which confirms that Inity is registered with government, instead of misleading the public,” he said.

Mkhize also challenged the Sunday Tribune to confirm the truthfulness and reliability of allegations that companies involving Nokulinda are raking millions in provincial government tenders.

“We specifically challenge them to go back to their sources and make available details of the specific tenders they are referring to that Nokulinda has secured in government.

“For me and my family, this remains yet another allegation to defame my daughter and indirectly tarnish the premier’s office.”

Asked whether the family or Bookize intends taking legal action regarding the allegations, Mkhize said no decision has been reached.

Another allegation made in the newspaper report is that Bookize teamed up with another company to supply containers for sanitation and sewerage treatment at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

“The Sunday Tribune elected not to include this issue in their list of questions sent to us. They instead rushed to publish the allegation that had not been confirmed, thus [it] lacked substance and credibility.

“An inference may be drawn that the reporters concerned did not want to obtain the full background in this issue, but were rather looking for yet another allegation to discredit my family members. No such tenders exist and we ask them to give us evidence to substantiate these allegations,” he said.

Mkhize said that despite the setbacks, he is still committed to championing the fight against any form of corruption and maladministration.

“Those who have evidence of maladministration and corruption in the government and public sector must hand over such evidence to law enforcement agencies.”

Sunday Tribune editor Philani Mgwaba said the thrust of the story was that the Mkhize family got the R3,3 million tender, which was not disputed by any party.

“With regard to other allegations, we did say in the story that it was unconfirmed reports. I am prepared to take up the matter with the office of the premier if they have got problems with what was reported,” Mgwaba said.

Regarding the Edendale Hospital tender report, Mgwaba said the omission of the report in the list of questions to the Mkhize family was not done deliberately.

It is not for the first time that the premier’s family has faced allegations of favouritism from government institutions. When Mkhize was still Finance and Economic Development MEC, it was alleged that Mashego received a loan from Ithala Bank, which is affiliated to the Department of Economic Development.


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