Tolls and Thuli: Nazir Alli's appeal to the public protector
Over the past week, the South African National Road Agency (Sanral) has been accused of engaging in improper tender practices and of having links to companies involved in the South African arms deal.
In a letter sent to advocate Thuli Madonsela, Alli said Sanral was concerned that public confidence in its procurement processes may be negatively influenced and skewed by perceptions created by the allegations.
It appears Alli wrote to the protector shortly after tendering his resignation to the board of Sanral. He requested that she investigate allegations into the reports linking companies involved in the South African arms deal to ETC Joint Venture, the company running e-tolling on its behalf.
“While we have noted the allegations, Sanral is unaware of any such links and it is of great concern to us that our project and Sanral have been tainted with such allegations or that corruption or fraud has taken place,” he wrote in the letter, which the Mail & Guardian has seen.
Alli asks for investigation
He called on Madonsela to investigate whether the tender processes were carried out correctly and without undue influence, whether the links alleged in recent media reports actually exist and, if they do, whether they had a bearing on the tender process.
He said that although Sanral was satisfied that its procurement processes were free of undue influence and in compliance with all laws and regulations, it would rather have an independent institution ascertain the legitimacy of the allegations.
Shortly afterwards he also wrote to Business Day to defend the roads agency from what he saw as “an attack on the integrity of the way [Sanral] does business”.
“In keeping with the nature of the debate around e-tolling, no one has felt the need to prove or demonstrate with actual facts what the substance and impact of such links might be,” he wrote in Business Day.
Alli said there was “clearly a desperate hunt by some parties for a smoking gun somewhere in Sanral’s business”. He said Sanral would welcome an investigation into its affairs but did not mention that he had in fact asked for one himself.
Alli has been at Sanral’s helm for almost 14 years and is highly respected in civil engineering circles. Insiders say he was deeply wounded by allegations of corruption in the e-tolling tender processes and frustrated by the lack of support he received from his political superiors through the e-tolling saga.
Alli left the country shortly after resigning from Sanral and has not been available for comment.
The office of the public protector has confirmed that it received Alli’s letter.