Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane cleared ANC chairperson and Minerals and Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe as well as Social Development minister Lindiwe Zulu of using their political influence in the awarding of a multi-million rand tender in the Eastern Cape.
Mkhwebane has, however, referred her investigation to the Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit to investigate "any commission of an offense by all the implicated parties including those who are politically connected".
In 2015, the Daily Dispatch released an exposé in the biggest political scandal to hit the Eastern Cape. The report implicated Mantashe and Zulu's sons in a R631-million tender to a company named Siyenza to build 66 000 toilets in the Amathole District Municipality. Mantashe's wife Nolwandle was also linked to the company.
The Dispatch revealed that proper procurement processes were not followed in the awarding of the contract to the Siyenza Group. Siyenza Group was a company owned by one Bongani Mpeluza, who was alleged to have strong links with a group of politically connected individuals.
A company belonging to Nolwandle and Buyambo (Mantashe's son) was awarded a sub-contract by Siyenza.
Political influence in tender awarding unsubstantiated
Mkhwebane in a media briefing on Friday afternoon said she investigated, among others, whether political influence played a role in the awarding of the contract and if so, whether that constitutes improper conduct and maladministration.
"I found that the allegation that there were irregularities in the awarding of the tender for the supply, delivery and installation of VIP toilet top structures by the municipality was substantiated. The allegation that political influence played a role in the award of the contract was unsubstantiated."
She said no evidence could be found to suggest that the tender was awarded to Siyenza due to political influence from those close to Mantashe and Zulu.
As part of her remedial actions , she has ordered that the municipal manager must ensure that the municipality’s supply chain management policy is revised to include a framework outlining how further procurement must be done.
"The municipal manager must ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken against all members of the Bid Adjudication Committee who were involved in the award of the tender. This must happen within 90 days of the date of this report," she said.
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