A player in the lucrative medical waste disposal field admitted this week that he developed a tool for the Limpopo government to evaluate tenders for a controversial multimillion-rand contract.
After being confronted with a copy of an email, businessman Nkululeko Makhunga confirmed that he mailed inspection criteria to the Limpopo health department’s senior manager for communicable disease control, Pauline Moetlo, four days before the department visited the plants of prospective tenderers.
The health department awarded the tender early in September to a consortium comprised of Buhle Waste and Ingwe Waste.
The lucrative deal involves the removal, treatment and disposal of medical waste from the province’s 40 hospitals and 360 clinics, at R4.1 million a month for three years.
Makhunga is linked to both companies through his involvement in Tshumisano, a consortium consisting of Buhle Waste, Ingwe Waste owner David Mogale and three other entities.
The consortium was awarded Limpopo’s lucrative R250-million medical waste disposal tender in 2005. Parties involved in Tshumisano have since fallen out and they t endered separately when the contract was advertised early this year.
A company in which ANC Youth League president Julius Malema had an interest was initially part of Tshumisano, but his 3% shares were later bought out for R150 000.
It appears that the Buhle Waste consortium enjoyed an unfair advantage as a result of Makhunga’s intervention. He emailed his evaluation tool to Moetlo, who had asked for it, on August 26 this year – 10 days before the contract was awarded. In the email he advised her on how best to award technical compliance points. Ten other bidding companies were disqualified – largely on grounds of non-technical compliance.
In the email, a copy of which is in City Press’s possession, Makhunga passes on pointers for consideration during inspections and advice on what to ignore.
He writes: “The adjudication committee cannot evaluate the treatment plants in terms of emission, quality residues and other technical aspects, but can ensure the following are in place.”
He then lists a number of pointers including “capacity of plant” and “ablution facilities”.
Although Moetlo was not part of the four-member bid adjudication committee, she is close to key players in the health department, including department head Aggrey Morake and MEC Miriam Segabutla.
Until last year Moetle was the project manager on the contract and reported to the department’s acting senior general manager for health, Dr Ntsile Kgaphola.
Sources in the department claimed that she was unofficially assigned to manage the tender again after her successor, Morongwa Mohapi, was sidelined by Morake and Segabutla.
This, the sources said, came after Mohapi and other staff members formally complained about political interference in the tendering process.
Kgaphola denied that Makhunga’s guidelines formed part of the adjudication process, and said he did not know anything about the email because Moetlo did not send it to him. He could not explain why Moetlo wanted the information if she was no longer directly involved in the tender process.
Makhunga was seconded from Buhle to Tshumisano in 2005 as general manager. Mogale accused him of being part of an internal “syndicate” targeting him and David Sekete, Buhle’s owner. “He knows that we would not hire him in the new company and he was trying to secure his own future,” Mogale said.
On Friday, however, Makhunga claimed that the newly established Buhle consortium offered him a job in the new entity.
“I can confirm that my company has agreed with Ingwe and Buhle that I will be appointed as a consultant in the new company with effect from December 1,” he said. “We will be meeting . . . to finalise the terms and conditions of employment.”
Mogale did not respond to Makhunga’s claims, and Sekete and Moetlo did not respond to questions sent to them by City Press.