Metro probes official in tender

Ekurhuleni municipality’s head of transport and planning, Lusanda Madikizela, is the subject of an internal investigation after it was claimed that she participated illegally in two bid committees for an R88-million transport contract.

Madikizela was part of the committee that evaluated the bid of a company in which her friends are directors.

More than a month later the recommended bidder is yet to be appointed, because the investigation has delayed the process.

Initially, Madikizela was also part of the bid adjudication committee’s (BAC) panel, although she later recused herself from it.

Ekurhuleni spokesperson Themba Gadebe confirmed the probe but said he was unable to comment further as the matter was still under investigation

Sources familiar with the developments — and who asked not be identified for fear of reprisals — said the investigation was launched after Madikizela’s recusal.

Madikizela is understood to be a bid adjudication committee member and, by law, could not be in the evaluation committee. However, “she evaluated the bid even after the CFO [chief financial officer] advised her that she couldn’t do that”, a source said. She refuted this, saying it was raised “after the evaluation”.

At the same meeting, AM Consulting Engineers (AMCE), which Madikizela is said to have links with, was recommended as the winning bidder.

The Mail & Guardian understands that, in the functionality evaluation AMCE scored top, with 95.6 points, and none of the nine other bidders scored the minimum 70 points.

AMCE is owned by Auswell Mashaba, the director of Swifambo Rail, the controversial Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) contractor. Last month, the high court in Johannesburg found Swifambo’s R2.6-billion Prasa contract to be corrupt. Sources say Ekurhuleni was not made aware of this judgment.

Madikizela said she has a “friendly relationship” with the company’s directors, with whom she had worked previously. But it is alleged that neither Madikizela nor AMCE declared the link, which is prohibited by the treasury’s supply chain management policy.

It states that “[an] evaluation process shall be free of conflicts of interest and any perception of bias. Any connections between the employees and agents [of institution] and a tenderer or respondent shall be disclosed and recorded in the tender evaluation report.”

The contract was for the “project management unit” of the metro’s multimillion-rand integrated rapid public transport network and was to run from July 1 2017 to June 2020.

Madikizela said it was natural that she was friendly with the AMCE directors, because she had previously worked with some of them while she a chief director in the department of transport.

“I know them, I have worked with the company before. They are service providers in the transport sector, I’m in the transport sector. So I know them like I know others in the industry. So what’s the link? I am friends with a lot of service providers. What’s different about this one? The sector is fairly small, so I know quite a number of people. I have their numbers, I talk to them from time to time. If that’s what they mean, I wouldn’t deny it.”

She added: “We went to [the bid adjudication committee] in July. That was when they said they wanted to check. No one said it was an investigation. What they said is that they wanted to check my participation in the evaluation as a BAC member … that they would check my participation as an evaluator.”

She said she recused herself from the committee because she had participated in the evaluation process. 

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Sihle Manda
Sihle Manda is a senior reporter at the GCIS. He previously covered local government and investigations at The Mercury, The Star and the Mail & Guardian.

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