As concerns mount over the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works’ decision to award a lucrative tender to the daughter of ANC MPL Thulani Xulu, ruling party heavies have lined up to defend the deal.
This follows the department’s announcement that it was on the verge of awarding a R184-million office rental contract to Upscale Property — a company owned by Xulu’s 28-year-old daughter, Silindile.
While Xulu insists that the deal had nothing to do with him, private investigator Paul O’Sullivan, who investigated the tender process, claims that Upscale Property was a front for the ANC MPL.
With Rebosis, the company that lost out to Upscale Property, having filed an objection, there were expectations that the ANC provincial leadership would probe Xulu.
However, sources within the ANC provincial leadership told The Witness that neither Xulu nor his daughter had done anything wrong.
In his report, seen by The Witness, O’Sullivan claimed that Upscale Property’s R184-million tender bid was R104 million higher than that of Rebosis.
Further, O’Sullivan claimed that compared to Rebosis, which has a wealth of experience in property management, Upscale Property had been registered only three weeks before the tender was advertised.
The ANC source said Xulu had already briefed ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli about claims that he used his daughter as a front to bag the contract.
“He told comrade Mdumiseni there are allegations flying around and that should the ANC leadership be of the view that he should explain himself before the integrity committee, he would comply,” the source said.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said the party did not deal with tender disputes. “As far as we are aware this is a dispute between two companies. So far there is not much we can say from the ANC side,” he said.
The Public Works Department said all processes were followed before the decision to award the tender was made.
“However, what we don’t understand is the issue around an MPL who has been mentioned in the media. The department had assessed the tender documents submitted by a company called Upscale Property, which has nothing to do with the MPL you are referring to,” said KZN Public Works head of ministry Isaac Luthuli.
Asked whether the fact that the Upscale Property director was Xulu’s daughter was not a problem to the department, Luthuli said that cannot be used against Silindile. “He is not an MPL of the Public Works Department.”
The department wants to use the office space to accommodate staff of the provincial Department of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs after the lease on their current building in Jabu Ndlovu Street, owned by Rebosis, expired.
Treasury’s appeal tribunal will now hear Rebosis’ case before deciding whether the department can go ahead and award the contract to Upscale Property.