South Africa, Pretoria – The process of awarding the R4 billion Tshwane fleet management tender has been abruptly halted after it was found to be tainted with collusion involving officials and bidders.
Mayor Randall Williams lifted the lid on the corruption-riddled tender, announcing that the awarding process would be put on hold pending further investigations.
Part of the tender included the hiring of refuse removal trucks, which previously affected residents when refuse could not be collected on time.
The metro failed to appoint new contractors prior to the expiry of the contract which expired in July and was extended by a month.
The tender focused on the corporate hire of general construction vehicles, yellow plant equipment, refuse removal vehicles, specialised equipment, and machines for the city.
Williams disclosed that the tender bidding process was flagged by a probity investigation commissioned by the departed administrators before they could make a final decision on successful bidders.
The report was compiled by Nexus Forensic Services after it was concluded on October 23.
Williams described the report as damning after it revealed that 71 employees in the service of the state had either direct or indirect conflicts of interest in the bidding process of the tender in question.
Investigators found that 35 bidding entities, who shared directorships, failed to disclose their status in the bidding documents, which smacked of collusive bidding.
At least 49 bidders were either directly or indirectly linked to 68 city employees and employees of three other state entities.
Three employees in Tshwane were identified as being directors of some of the recommended bidders, none of which was disclosed.
Six of the 767 bidding companies had details that could not be matched against the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission database.
Williams said: “The entire procurement process of the tender has a host of flaws, discrepancies, anomalies and irregularities to conclude that the process has been irrevocably tainted with irregularities that renders the process unfair and even unlawful in respect of the non-compliance with the relevant legislation.”
Some of the irregularities detected in the forensic probe were that bidders who qualified for the tender were disqualified, and those without the required experience or vehicles to deliver services were allowed to bid.
It came to the attention of investigators that bidders supported each other’s bids by reference letters, which was indicative of collusive tender practice.
Williams said: “This probity report is damning, it indicates widespread abuse of the city’s supply chain processes. It implicates officials at various levels of the supply chain processes. It implicates bidders and companies who were clearly colluding together.”
He said disciplinary steps would immediately be taken against three Tshwane officials implicated in the tender bidding.
“The report also identified 68 employees who are indirectly linked to bidding entities. The bidders did not disclose any affiliation with these employees. The identified employees will be investigated to determine if they declared their interest in these business entities to the City,” he said.
Acting city manager Masabata Mutlaneng was tasked with implementing the report recommendations and seeing that implicated officials were immediately suspended and disciplined where there was evidence of wrongdoing.
Williams would also refer the report to the Special Investigating Unit for further investigation and to pursue possible criminal prosecutions. In addition, he would contact the National Treasury for the bidders to be held accountable and blocked at a national level on national databases.
“The tender in its current form can simply not be awarded.
Thankfully, with this probity report we can correct any wrongful processes and implement consequence management,” he said.