R98m tender in 24 hours

They could not prove they had ever completed a building and the prices in their bidding documents were pencilled in.

But that did not stop a construction consortium from bagging a R98?million tender in a single day.

Senior officials in the Gauteng department of roads and transport spent more than eight months pleading with their counterparts in Gauteng’s department of infrastructure development to withdraw the tender that was awarded to Zambli Construction Magoda Joint Venture, crying foul over the procedure.

The tender was advertised last year with a closing date of Friday, December 13. It was awarded on December 19 – the day after the bid committees sat to evaluate it.

The tender was for the construction of a new building in Pretoria for Gauteng roads and transport’s Transport Operating Licensing and Administration Board.

The old building was declared unsafe and had to be demolished, and a new one built.

The tender was halted after Bonga Majola, a chief director in Gauteng’s roads and transport department, laid a criminal complaint with the Hawks against MEC Ismail Vadi and five other senior officials in May.

Details of the dubious tender are contained in his affidavit.

It also contains claims that 20 crucial steps – required in terms of supply chain management policies and the Public Finance Management Act – were “unlawfully and deliberately” disregarded by the bid evaluation and the bid adjudication committees.

Majola alleges the bid evaluation committee spent just a day evaluating the tender on the instruction of a senior official, whose name is known to City Press.

Among the missing steps was the bid evaluation committee’s failure to complete its evaluation process, determine whether other bids were better, and conduct an inspection of the winning company to assess its capacity and ability to do the work.

The winning consortium also quoted a tender price of 12.5% below estimated costs – an indication it could not execute the project because its price was too low.

The tender documents were filled in with pencil, which is against the rules, and the winning bidder did not supply completion certificates to prove it had completed any project.

The bid evaluation committee was unable to verify the consortium’s tax clearance certificates and it emerged only after the tender was awarded that the joint venture did not possess the required equipment to do the job.

Majola claims in his affidavit that when officials raised concerns, their bosses, who are required by law to respond to them in 30 days, ignored their complaints.

Attempts to reach representatives from Zambli Construction Magoda Joint Venture drew a blank. No records for the consortium were found on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and with the Construction Industry Development Board, with which all construction joint ventures have to be registered by law.

In his affidavit, Majola said he wanted Vadi investigated for failing to ensure all tender processes were “fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective”, according to section 217 of the Constitution.

Vadi’s spokesperson, Octavia Mamabolo, dismissed Majola’s claim that he was informed about the irregular tender on March 10 and had acted only after the matter was reported to police.

She said Vadi was only told on May 28 – the day Majola had laid the complaint.

Vadi then informed finance MEC Barbara Creecy about the irregular tender. She halted it and instituted an investigation.

In a joint statement released on Friday, Gauteng infrastructure development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said action would be taken as the tender process was “flawed”.

“Both MECs have agreed that corrective action must be taken after receiving a forensic investigation report that was commissioned in August this year by the Gauteng provincial treasury,” said the statement.

“The forensic report recommends that the government commence with legal action to set aside the tender awarded to the construction company; disciplinary action be instituted against officials identified in the report; [and] the departments assist the SAPS in their investigations into the matter.”

Senior officials and consultants to whom City Press spoke said Majola should be lauded for saving taxpayers R98?million.

A senior official who was part of the tender-awarding process said: “We objected that day and asked we be given at least three days to evaluate the tender. But senior [infrastructure development officials] ... put pressure on the department of roads and transport to pay and commence with moving staff out of the building for the consortium to start work.

“It is shocking because there is no way anyone can evaluate and adjudicate a tender of that size in a day.”

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