In mid-November 2009, when the public works department was already in a flurry over the increasingly complicated security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead, the director of one of its main contractors was rubbing shoulders with ANC top brass in Guangzhou, China.
Pamela Mfeka, the sole director of Moneymine Enterprises, which was already on site at Nkandla in 2009 doing private work for Zuma, was accompanied by her husband, Michael Mfeka, on the five-day trip.
Pamela, who also owns Igugu Training and Investments and Igugu Functions Venue, was a member of the delegation, organised by the ANC's Progressive Business Forum.
The trip was led by the ANC's former treasurer general, Mathews Phosa.
Michael, who is not listed as a director of his wife's companies, worked as Moneymine's project manager at Nkandla.
Towards the end of 2009, the department was already spending money it had not secured – it was following instructions from the police and the defence department for security upgrades to Zuma's private residence.
The estimated cost at that stage was R27.8-million; the projected cost by October 2012 was R270-million.
But on their China trip the Mfekas, from Pinetown in Durban, would have rested easy in the knowledge that Moneymine was guaranteed several multimillion-rand government contracts for work at Nkandla.
As Zuma's hand-picked private contractor, Moneymine had profited handsomely from its initial association with him and was set to land public works contracts on the project for several years.
Moneymine, which worked on Nkandla's high-security core area in phase one of the development, has been paid R56.3-million so far, according to the public works department's latest figures.
Its first contract at Nkandla for the department began in November 2009, according to documents obtained by the Mail & Guardian following a Promotion of Access to Information Act application.
Mfeka refers to her company's phase one work in a document listing its previous projects. Referring to "Durban Project A – Construction of a Homestead in Nkandla", she records the start of this project as November 2009, giving the following November as the completion date. The total cost was R19.4-million.
Moneymine's continued role at Nkandla was largely guaranteed by Zuma's insistence that he did not want another company on site.
In March 2010, a few months after the China trip, the department's Jean Rindel, who was overseeing the Nkandla upgrades, explained why Moneymine had been appointed as a phase one contractor despite the deviation from normal procurement procedures.
Rindel noted: "The owner of the property had appointed a contractor, Moneymine Investments, to construct new accommodation at the site. The current status of that project is that the contractor is on site and construction is 15% completed. The state has the obligation to include the security measures in the existing and the new accommodation."
Rindel noted that, as no other contractor could do the job, the work could not go out on open tender.
"It is essential that Moneymine construction be appointed under the negotiated procedure to eliminate … risks. The contractor is security cleared by the National Intelligence Agency and is trusted by the owner of the property.
"It is thus essential that the same contractor, Moneymine Investments, be appointed to complete the works," he wrote.
Shortly after the memorandum, Rindel's pleas were answered in the affirmative, despite the fact that Moneymine had in effect been appointed to do the security installations and other works in the initial phase of the project.
In January 2011, Moneymine was again guaranteed work – for phase two.
Another department document suggests that the decision to go with a "negotiated bid" at that stage was also indirectly prompted by Zuma: "A meeting was held with Deputy Minister [of Public Works] Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu (and other senior officials) on 21 December 2010 in which she confirmed that the principal [Zuma] indicated that he does not want other contractors on site in phase two."
Phase two related mostly to the installation of additional "security measures", including 31 new buildings, police accommodation, bullet-proof glass and a security surveillance system.
Rindel and other public works department officials consistently motivated for Moneymine's appointments to be rolled over to ensure the "integration" of Zuma's private upgrades with the department's.
The company was also handed the remainder of work left by Bonelena, which the department fired in April during phase three, for which Moneymine received an extra R3.47-million.
Moneymine has a number of other lucrative contracts from public works.
Michael Mfeka said neither he nor his wife could comment on Moneymine's involvement at Nkandla. He said that they were "not allowed to talk to the press" and that the department "has all the information". – Additional reporting by Xanthe Hunt
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