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Saga of the tender row at TWK Municipality continues

The ANC in Overberg has challenged Executive Mayor of Theewaterskloof Christelle Vosloo to show her party’s and her commitment to clean, good and accountable governance by acting against officials implicated in tender irregularities.

A press release issued by Derick Appel, regional secretary of the ANC on 5 February, states the municipality withheld information. The Gazette reported over the last two weeks that Municipal Manager Gerrit Matthyse stopped a tender process with a manufacturer of protective clothing and last week (“Probe is a blight on good record”, 4 February 2020) the mayor explained all due processes were followed, and that this is an isolated case.

The ANC claims the municipality’s behaviour and action in withholding information in connection with an amount of R50 408,33 paid to a firm of attorneys flew in the face of the DA-led municipality’s professed commitment to accountability.

“We agreed at a council meeting on 3 December, after the ANC brought a motion to council to open up this tender. It was then decided that the Municipal Manager should be given three months to investigate tender irregularities. However, on 4 December 2019, the municipality received a letter from Barry Bright’s attorneys. We were not informed of this letter.”

Appel states the municipality paid a firm of attorneys more than R50 000 just to write a letter. “We were shocked by this information and because the municipality went behind our backs, we no longer feel bound by the agreement to order an investigation,” he said.

The R1 525 144,02 tender for the period 6 October 2019 to 6 September 2020 was awarded to Barry Bright Trade and Invest by the municipality last September.

Appel explained: “However, following complaints, the Provincial Treasury launched an investigation. According to the Treasury, there was a direct conflict of interest between the successful bidder and the budget holders in the municipality. The investigation also found that the local content declaration made by the successful tenderer was incorrectly interpreted.

“Following this advice, the municipality met directors of Barry Bright on 16 November 2019 to negotiate a possible cancellation of the tender.

“Later, the Municipal Manager informed Barry Bright through a lawyer’s letter, written by Fairbridges Attorneys, of its intention not to proceed with the tender and also of its plans to approach a competent court to set aside the appointment in order to re-advertise the tender.

“Subsequently, the political leader of the municipality approached the full council to approve the deviation from its normal supply chain management procedures. The ANC calls for the suspension of the municipal official and calls for disciplinary action.”

Vosloo said on Friday the previous media release she issued on the clothing tender, deals with all the ANC’s comments and accusations. “This municipal government and administration will not be dragged into a debate with a political agenda.

I said in my previous media release that the investigation into the tender is underway. As a responsible government and administration we will honour the council’s resolution of 3 December 2019, and we will wait for the outcome of the investigation.Vosloo said, as stated previously, she will protect the municipality’s integrity at all costs, and will not allow their employees to be prematurely or unfairly discredited. “I will see to it that we take all action emanating from the investigation,” she said. “At this stage the investigation focusses on the tender procedures; as well as the subsequent expenses.”

Vosloo said the ANC’s allegations of secret deals is nothing more than an attempt to score early election points.

“Everything this municipal government does in this matter will be revealed to the various stakeholders, including the public, Council, the internal auditor, the Auditor General and Provincial Treasury.”

Vosloo added that the tender matter is challenging but she is proud that they did not attempt to engage in cover ups that so often happens where the ANC governs. “We raised this matter with Provincial Treasury before the ANC knew about it, and we cancelled the tender allocation without any external pressure.”

The mayor said over the last 10 years a number of tenders allocations were challenged by means of appeals and other actions, but not one of the rulings went against the municipality.

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