Tender blacklist 'empty', but Mabuza says new bill will make it obligatory to name and shame

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Deputy President David Mabuza.
Deputy President David Mabuza.
Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius
  • The deputy president has said that the draft Public Procurement Bill, currently under consideration by Cabinet, will make it mandatory to add names to two national tender blacklists.
  • A recent Corruption Watch report found that the key Register for Tender Defaulters had no names on it, while the separate Database for Restricted Suppliers was vastly underused. 
  • Organs of state are by law prohibited from awarding contracts to companies on either list. 

Deputy President David Mabuza has said it must become obligatory for all spheres of government to report the names of suppliers found guilty of corruption to the state's little-used national tender blacklist. 

Created in 2004 under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the Register for Tender Defaulters is meant to punish suppliers or contractors found guilty of criminal offences by keeping them from doing business with the state again.

The names of all bidders for tenders must first be checked against the register and the separate Database for Restricted Suppliers before awards are made.

But government was left red-faced after a recent Corruption Watch report found that the register had zero names on it

Opposition parties pounced on the lack of names to argue it proved the state was weak on corruption. 

Answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday, Mabuza said it was clear there were "gaps" in the regulations governing how the register and the database are used.

He said that provisions in the draft Public Procurement Bill, currently under consideration by Cabinet, would make it mandatory for accounting officers at all levels of government to flag suppliers found guilty of corruption. 

The bill, he said, also includes provisions for sanctions against officials who don't use the register or the database when they should. 

"It is not going to become a choice, but a compliance matter," said Mabuza. 

What are they supposed to do?

The Register for Tender Defaulters lists companies found guilty of corruption-related offenses in court, where a judge has ruled they should be prohibited from doing business again with the state. 

It is not, however, the duty of the court to add the names of the companies to the register. Rather, the accounting officer of the government institution that brought the court case needs to inform Treasury, which will add names to the list after verifying the information. It is this register that has zero names on it. 

The separate Database for Restricted Suppliers, which Treasury also hosts, is 'easier' to populate. Any organ of state  can submit names to this database without the need for a court order.

While some MPs on Thursday said that both the register and the database were empty,  that this is not the case. The database does have names on it. But analysts have noted that only a few government departments or municipalities are responsible for adding names to the list, meaning it is not being used by the vast majority of the organs of state. 

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