Minister takes municipality to court over dodgy tender claims

Ntshavheni denies she awarded the contract

Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has instituted legal action against the Ba-Phalaborwa municipality for alleged misrepresentation in the Limpopo High Court that resulted in the court making adverse findings against her and other municipal officials.

Ntshavheni’s lawyers, Lugisani Mantsha Attorneys, said the municipality made misrepresentations in its papers before the court and also failed to contact her to respond to allegations levelled against her in the awarding of a tender to Makwande Chartered Accountants in 2009, when she was municipal manager.

The lawyers said: “The municipality, without the knowledge of our client, misrepresented certain statements in its papers before the court, of which the said papers were never served to our client, nor was our client ever contacted by the municipality to confirm or deny her involvement in the alleged oral agreement between the municipality and the service provider and other alleged untoward conduct in relation to this contract in 2009, some 11 years ago.

“The misrepresentation by the municipality led the court to draw a certain conclusion without having the benet of our client’s version, who was deliberately not served nor alerted about the said statement concerning her.

“The municipality’s official made the said allegations unlawfully and with the intention to, inter alia, mislead the court and to injure our client’s reputation.”

According to court papers, the municipality applied for a collateral review to set aside its own decision to award a tender to Makwande Chartered Accountantsin 2009.

It said the tender had been advertised for only seven days in the Sowetan from June 23-30 2009, and not 14 days, as required by regulations.

It also said Makwande was not on the bidders register – a list of bidders who submitted their documents before the closing date, yet Makwande later scored a R584 000 tender, a claim Ntshavheni vehemently denies.

The municipality asked the court to set aside the contract as there were also oral amendments – made by Ntshavheni and the company – to the services level agreement between Makwande and the municipality.

The contract price had risen to over R2.2-million because of oral agreements concluded on the same day the contract was awarded. Judge GC Muller set aside the awarding of the tender and referred the matter to the National Prosecuting Authority.

“A copy of this judgment must be forwarded to the deputy director of public prosecution to consider institution of prosecution, if warranted by the facts, following an investigation,” reads the order.

 

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