Lesedi Black Business Forum disapproves of mayor’s alleged meddling in procurement process

Members of the Lesedi Black Business Forum (LBBF) who attended the municipal offices to participate in a public tender process, said they were prohibited from entering the premises and attending the public process.

When members of the Lesedi Black Business Forum (LBBF) attended the municipal offices on May 15 to participate in a public tender process, they were firmly showed the door by a group of private security guards.

 

“We were accused of being disruptive and prohibited from entering the premises to attend a public procurement process,” Tshepo Mazibuko said on behalf of LBBF.

 

Expressing his disappointment, Mazibuko added that it points to a deliberate move by municipal officials to either meddle with the tender process, or to flout the tender system in order to undermine the goal of empowering black people.

 
Similar accusations surfaced in 2017 when LBBF general secretary Victor Lobi approached HERAUT and said that work on a R15 million project in Ward 2 (Ratanda) was placed on hold, following allegations that the executive mayor of Lesedi, Lerato Maloka, had interfered in the appointment of sub-contractors. The allegations were strongly rejected by councillor Maloka and in a statement she said the delay was a result of a ‘deliberate misunderstanding of processes and subtle intentions.’

 

“The reasons why LBBF want to attend these tender processes are firstly to ensure that the draft preferential procurement regulations are being met and secondly to address unemployment and job losses. It seems the executive mayor is not willing to award tenders to local companies, but rather assigns them to outside contractors who in return are not dedicated to sub-contracting to local small enterprises,” Mazibuko explained.

 

In reference Mazibuko said that Lesedi Local Municipality has recently awarded two construction tenders worth around R27 million and R29 million each, to an outside contractor. One is for the construction of a sports stadium in Ratanda and the other for the construction of a road surface in Extension 23 (Obed Nkosi). “The very same contractor was also awarded two tenders back in 2013,” he added.

 
In 2003 the South African government adopted a supply chain system that sought to ulitise the procurement processes to address the economic imbalances of the past. However, while many South Africans celebrate the current tender system, one must not turn a blind eye to its imperfections.
In response to the allegations made by LBBF, DA ward councillor Mirna Mulder said the tender process has as a result of interference by the executive mayor and the municipal manager, become an emotional melting pot. Jobs have been promised to members of the community, but it has not materialised.

 

“No new jobs are created to assist with the plight of unemployment and the process has already led to some form of investigation by the SIU,” she said.

 

Speaking from her experience and specifically referring to VOPAK Terminal development project in Jameson Park, she added that the interference could be seen as a political manipulation.

 

She did however, condemn the recent disruptive behaviour when members of LBBF allegedly wreaked havoc at the opening of the procurement processes. “It resulted in chaos and police were called in to restore peace. It is also regrettable that in view of the poor economic condition of the municipality, the municipal manager still decided to employ the services of an additional private security company for the protection of the people involved in the opening of tenders – all at great cost, while the council is already paying monthly astronomical amounts for a security company that should protect the buildings and staff,” she said.

 

During the public IDP meeting held on April 20 in the City Hall, it was announced that the maintenance budget had to be cut in order to add the money to the salary budget (now at 23.3% or R190 724 925 million of the total R795 167 023 budget). It was also announced that around R16 million was made available from the Municipal Budget for so-called projects envisaged by the Council.

 

“These projects were not discussed with the community, but merely planned by municipal officials.” Mulder said.

 

A request for a response on the topic was sent to the municipal spokesperson on May 16, but not received in time for publication.

 

According to DA councillor Mirna Mulder, members from Lesesi Black Business Forum previously disrupted the opening of tender processes and wreaked havoc at the municipal offices by throwing and scattering tender documents across the floor.

 

While Lesedi Local Municipality is already paying astronomical amounts towards a security company that should protect its buildings, they also employed the services of an additional private security company for protection purposes during the opening of tenders on May 15.

 

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Heidelberg Nigel Heraut

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