/ 3 June 2011

Treasury blacklists Cape ANC bigwig

The ANC’s Western Cape secretary, Songezo Mjongile, has become the first high-profile casualty of the national treasury’s crackdown on tenderpreneurs who do business with the government.

According to a blacklist posted on the treasury website this week, euphemistically called the “Database of Restricted Suppliers“, Mjongile may not do business with the government until 2014 because of a breach of contract with the Western Cape health department.

Mjongile is a former ANC Youth League leader and chief executive of the league’s investment arm, Lembede Investments, which had close links to slain mining mogul Brett Kebble. Mainly with the help of JCI, the company of which Kebble had been chief executive officer, Lembede has investments in mining, property development, agriculture and fishing.

Mjongile, now a full-time ANC official in the Western Cape, told the Mail & Guardian that the blacklisting related to a company, Linda Medical Supplies, owned by him and his ex-wife, Linda.

The company was contracted to provide medical supplies to the provincial health department.

“My ex-wife has the company and I was registered as a director. In 2008 I broke up with her and I think I resigned from the company,” he said. But, according to records of the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office, he became a director in May 2006 and is still listed as such.

ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said the blacklisting related to Mjongile’s business activities before he became party secretary “and therefore is beyond the ANC’s control”. “He told us that while he was in the company everything was fine. But then he divorced his wife and left the company, and that’s when things started going wrong. It would be difficult to question his leadership role based on this,” Khoza said.

This week the treasury announced sweeping measures to tackle corruption by making tender processes far more transparent. Finance minister Pravin Gordhan told Parliament’s finance committee that every step of a government tender process would now appear on the relevant government department website.

All government tenders worth more than R500 000 will be published for public scrutiny. The names and bids of companies applying for contracts will be displayed and company directors, shareholders and beneficiaries will be made known.

Once the winning bid is chosen, it will be posted on the department website with the relevant documentation.

Departments must also give the treasury six months’ notice of tenders they want to issue. “You can’t just wake up one morning and decide to issue a ­tender,” Gordhan told Parliament.

He added that bid documents would have to include the names of all directors and senior officials of a company so that authorities can check them against the state’s payroll. This is to ensure that directors and senior officials are not elected public representatives or public servants.

Businesses can be blacklisted for poor contractual performance or breach of contract, fronting, maladministration, bribery, non-performance and misrepresentation.

Treasury spokesperson Lindani Mbunyuza said: “The names of companies or individuals are supplied by departments and the responsibility lies with the accounting officer of each department to ensure that information sent to national treasury is accurate. The list will be updated as treasury gets the information from departments.”