IEC sued for R7.5m over lease contract

Khwela City Property Investments is suing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for R7.5-million in damages after not being awarded a multi-million-rand lease contract.

“Khwela City was the preferred supplier who met all the criteria. Despite that they were not awarded the contract,” Marlon Stuart, a senior partner for law firm Stuart van der Merwe Incorporated which is acting for Khwela, told the South African Press Association on Friday.

“The claim is for not being awarded the tender, based on the public protector’s report.” An investigation by public protector Thuli Madonsela last year into the procurement of the IEC Riverside Office Park building in Centurion found the procurement process “grossly irregular”.

Madonsela found there was improper conduct and maladministration on IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula’s part, as she had a relationship, possibly of a romantic nature, with then chairperson of Parliament’s finance portfolio committee, Thaba Mufamadi.

Mufamadi was a shareholder in Abland, the property development firm awarded the R320-million lease.

Integrity compromised
At the time, Madonsela recommended that Parliament consider taking action against Tlakula. Before the May general election, several political parties took Tlakula to court claiming her integrity had been compromised.

The Electoral Court found her conduct warranted her removal from office. She later made an application to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal against the court’s ruling but it was dismissed.

Tlakula resigned from the Electoral Commission of South Africa last month.

On September 10, President Jacob Zuma asked Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to begin the process of filling her post.

‘Flawed’ lease
Marlon told Sapa he was informed last week that the IEC had launched an application in the high court in Pretoria to have the 10-year lease set aside over “flaws”. He said Khwela City was cited as a respondent in the matter but they had not yet received the court documents.

Marlon expected to receive the notice of motion on Friday.

In court papers obtained by the Sowetan, the IEC claimed Tlakula unlawfully committed the commission to nearly R83-million in expenditure that was not procedurally fair, transparent or competitive.

According to the founding affidavit filed by IEC deputy chairperson Terry Tselane, Tlakula did not follow a fair procurement process before signing two addenda to the lease to incur additional immovable and movable fitting-out expenses worth R22.6m and nearly R60m respectively.

The newspaper reported that the addenda also allowed for unlimited fitting-out expenses at a 2% commission to Abland. – Sapa

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