- A court set aside a contract awarded by the SABC for the refurbishing of lifts and escalators.
- The contract, awarded in 2015, was worth over R7 million.
- The SABC requested the review of the contract, which was awarded during the tenure of COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
The Johannesburg High Court has set aside a contract awarded by the SABC, worth over R7 million, for the refurbishment of lifts and escalators at one of the broadcaster's offices.
The court has also ordered the contractor to pay back the profits gained through the contract.
The SABC requested the review of the contract, awarded in 2015 during the tenure of chief operations officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and which had been earmarked for investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
The contract, which has been declared as unlawful and invalid, was awarded by the SABC to Mott MacDonald Africa (Pty) Ltd for the replacement and refurbishing of 36 lifts and six escalators at its Radio Park and TV Block buildings in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
The SIU joined the SABC in the High Court application to review the contract on the basis that the public broadcaster awarded the contract without following any of its prescribed procurement policy processes, said SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.
Instead of awarding the contract on an open-bidding basis, it treated Mott MacDonald as a sole provider of services, which was contrary to the regulatory rules of the procurement scheme.
"The SIU was given powers to join proceedings under Presidential Proclamation R29 of 2017, dated 1 September 2017, to investigate and take action in respect of contracts entered into by the SABC with various parties," says Kganyago.
In her judgment, Judge Raylene Keightley found that at the time the contract was awarded, the SABC had carried out a tender process for the refurbishment of lifts and escalators at its Auckland Park offices, and for the instalment of an additional two lifts.
Following this process, it was suggested that a well-known company take on the project. This was, however, vetoed by Motsoeneng and the chief financial officer at the time, James Aguma.
Despite a resolution to have an independent consultant oversee the project, it was later made the sole responsibility of Aguma, who contacted Mott MacDonald, the court heard.
"In short, there is simply no evidence at all that the deviation prescripts were followed before Mr Aguma appointed Mott. In all probability, this is because Mr Aguma did not follow the requisite procurement process," said Keightley.
"Instead, he flew solo (albeit, it would seem, with the knowledge of at least some members of the Group Exco) in approaching Mott to provide consulting services that effectively entailed the SABC contracting out to Mott the SABC's own procurement function."
Keightley added that the irregular awarding of the contract was just one of many "governance failures" at the parastatal.
"The systemic undermining of the procurement processes was but one part of a much broader pattern of governance failings by the SABC under the executive leadership of, among others, Mr Motsoeneng and Mr Aguma," she added.
Despite the invalidity of the consulting contract, the court said Mott MacDonald was entitled to retain, from the payments already made to it, an amount reflecting its reasonable expenses under the contract. The amount would be determined by experts.