Limpopo villages kept in the dark

2017-01-29 00:01
Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse municipal manager Johannes Mohlala.

Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse municipal manager Johannes Mohlala.

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Polokwane - A Limpopo council has unilaterally changed the contract of an electricity contractor by cutting the number of villages that were marked for installation of electricity, citing lack of funds.

Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse municipal manager Johannes Mohlala has removed three villages from Mphaphuli Consulting (Pty) Ltd’s contract, claiming lack of funds and accusing the contractor of poor performance. He has also refused to provide the affected company with a council resolution that supposedly endorsed the amendment of the contract.

Mphaphuli Consulting had embarrassed the platinum-rich municipality in Burgersfort last December when it won a case in the Polokwane High Court to attach its vehicles and a R47 million Nedbank investment account because Mohlala had refused to pay the company for six months.

The municipality then paid the R41.2m it owed the contractor from the investment account and got its vehicles back.

Mphaphuli Consulting was awarded a R326m pilot electrification project called Operation Mabone, aimed at installing electricity to 13 500 households in 24 villages, in 2013.

Since then the municipality has had five municipal managers with the latest one, Mohlala, seeking to cancel Mphaphuli’s contract because it was awarded before his term.

Contractual blunders

Mohlala has declined to give the company’s chief executive officer, Lufuno Mphaphuli, a copy of the council resolution that authorises the cancellation of the electrification project in the villages of Mashamuthane, Praktiseer and Bothashoek worth about R95m and told him to request the information using the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia).

“I’m not a third party to be asked to use Paia to get information ... The council’s decision is irrational. How do you cancel a contract by not discussing and notifying the service provider?” Mphaphuli said. He has threatened to challenge the municipality in court.

Mohlala and the municipality’s spokesperson, Kubane Tolo, did not respond to written questions sent to them on Tuesday.

The municipality’s legal representatives have withdrawn their services while the Tubatse Residents Association has called on the council to fire Mohlala for what they claim to be a series of contractual blunders that have cost taxpayers millions of rand.

Mohlala’s alleged blunders include:

. Appointing two companies for a R14m job of designing and installing 40 high-mast lights. Mohlala appointed Volt Consulting Engineers without following procurement procedures while his predecessor, Adelaide Monyepao, had already appointed another company, Bawelile Consulting;

. Paying R8.5m to Volt Consulting Engineering before any job was done;

. Awarding tenders worth R31.1m for the construction of access bridges in Mafara, Lebocha, Leboeng and Bothashoek without following tender procedures;

. Appointing an acting technical director who did not have the required qualifications in defiance of recommendations by the department of cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs; and

. Failing to pay a company hired to compile annual financial statements. Munsoft (Pty) Ltd went to court to claim R1.8m. It was eventually paid R3m, including interest.

Greater Tubatse merged with the Fetakgomo municipality after the 2014 local government elections following redemarcation of municipal boundaries.

The municipality has been found to be consistently underperforming and has been getting disclaimers and adverse opinions from the Auditor-General.

Research organisation, Good Governance Africa, placed the municipality among the country’s 10 worst run last year following a review of all the country’s 234 municipalities.

Read more on:    eskom  |  limpopo  |  electricity
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