Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has warned public entities that government will act against those who fail to execute their duties in an ethical manner, thereby compromising government’s efforts to create jobs and contribute towards economic recovery.
His remarks follow the decision by the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) board to not approve the awarding of five tenders with a collective value of R17.4 billion. These strategic projects are critical in growing the country’s economy as part of investments in infrastructure.
According to SANRAL, the tenders were cancelled due to a material irregularity in the tender process where a resolution made by the Board in January 2020 was not implemented in the evaluation of the said tenders.
“It is in our collective interest for SANRAL to find a remedy to the adjudication lapses that considers the strategic nature of these projects and minimises the delay leading to the award of these tenders. We are unequivocal in our resolve not to tolerate malfeasance for expediency in any of our entities,” the Minister said on Monday during a media briefing in Centurion.
These strategic projects include the R3.428 billion Mega Project Mtentu Bridge, the R56 billion Matatiele Rehabilitation Project as well as the R1.057 billion Matatiele Rehabilitation Project. Ashburton Interchange, which is valued at R1.814 billion and the EB Cloete Interchange, valued at R4.302 billion, were also not approved.
“The strategic nature of the projects SANRAL is responsible for require that the company be circumspect in handling procurement matters and ensure probity in the award of contracts.
“I will therefore not hesitate to act against the Board if there is evidence that the Board was derelict in the execution of its fiduciary duties. It is equally my expectation that the Board will not hesitate to implement consequence management against those found culpable for the lapses that have resulted in the decision not to award these tenders,” the Minister said.
Public procurement must adhere to legislative prescripts
Mbalula said government has learned with its experience at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) where the malfeasance and irregular contracts compromised service delivery and delayed the implementation of its modernisation programme by close to a decade, with major contracts held up in the courts.
“Furthermore, the strategic nature of the projects in question requires of us to ensure that governance principles are not undermined, and that the adjudication process can withstand scrutiny. We must do everything in our power to ensure that the integrity of the award process is not brought into question. Failure to uphold supply chain management principles will result in awards being challenged in courts, holding up the implementation of the projects,” the Minister said.
Mbalula warned those who had called him asking him to intervene in the tenders that were not approved.
“The Minister has no role in the procurement processes and we have no interest in the identity of the bidders. Our only interest is to ensure that the Board has given expression to the letter and spirit of the SANRAL Act and other applicable prescripts in the exercise of its responsibilities,” he said.
SANRAL Chairperson, Themba Barrange Mhambi, condemned the discussion about tenders on public platforms by bidders.
“It is inappropriate for matters to do with tenders to be debated publicly by bidders on those tenders and the organisations concerned. It seems some of the bidders since SANRAL has decided to re-advertise have learnt nothing from the Commission of Inquiry. They think we are still in the past where bidders can apply political pressure on public organisations to award them tenders irrespective of the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA),” Mhambi said.
He said the tenders were not awarded due to lapses and violations that were found by the board. – SAnews.gov.za