The tender process for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) is "fair, open and transparent" Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has said.
He said the evaluation process was conducted in a "highly secured environment" with both video and voice recordings and by a multi-disciplinary team of independent external advisers with expertise in legal, technical, financial and economic disciplines.
The minister was holding a briefing on IPPs in Pretoria on Sunday, where he gave government's rationale for including renewable energy in the country's energy mix.
Radebe also addressed claims that the IPP procurement programme's bidding process was questionable.
The EFF has suggested that both the president and Radebe have personal interests in IPPs. Both men are linked to SA billionaire Patrice Motsepe, whose company African Rainbow Energy and Power (AREP) is invested in IPP projects. Ramaphosa is married to Dr Tshepo Motsepe and Radebe is married to Bridgette Motsepe, both of whom are the sisters of Patrice.
But on Sunday Radebe said that the renewable IPP programme's bidding approach has earned world acclaim.
"The tender process and the awarding of contracts are fair, open and transparent and the security around the evaluation process mitigates the risks of corruption and interference," he said.
In addition to the secure environment Radebe described, he said evaluation reports are checked by independent reviewers.
"Each evaluation process is subject to scrutiny and monitoring by a governance and compliance review team comprised of independent audit professionals."
All bidders, evaluation teams, review teams and governance audit specialist involved are required to complete extensive declarations of conflicts of interest, he said.
"Bidders are also required to declare that no collusion took place in preparation of their bids. If found to have taken place the bids will be disqualified," Radebe said.
The final consideration and approval of the preferred bidders is conducted by the bid adjudication committee of the department of energy, he added.
'Must be vigilant'
Radebe said that he had been to the IPP Procurement Office in Midrand, which is above board.
"There is no opportunity for corruption there, but it does not mean that we must not be vigilant," he told journalists. He added that all those who have not been successful in bids cannot complain about the fairness, transparency and openness of the process.
At a separate briefing on Monday, February 18, Radebe's brother-in-law Patrice Motsepe said Africa Rainbow Energy and Power (AREP), which he founded and chairs, only has minority stakes in IPPs, which he acquired through bids to the private sector owned projects.
The private companies tendered for the IPP agreements with government.Two of the IPPs – Kangnas Wind Farm (located in Springbok, Northern Cape) and Perdekraal East Wind Farm (located in Witzenberg, Western Cape) – were part of the 27 IPP agreements signed off by Radebe last year.
The 27 IPPs were selected in 2015, before Radebe was minister, there had been numerous delays in its finalisation.
Radebe told journalists that he had no conflict of interest in terms of the IPP. "The 27 IPP agreements that I signed in April 2018 was to execute what was already a decision taken by one of my predeccessors Minister Tina Joemat-Petersen way back in 2016 and 2017." He added that Motsepe also did not partipate in the bidding process for those 27 IPP agreements.
Radebe said that every year he is required by Parliament and Cabinet to declare conflict of interest. "I sign diligently every year if I have a conflict of interest. I have no conflict of interest," he said.