The Democratic Alliance, (DA) has uncovered collusive tendering practices to the tune of R59 million within KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Department of Arts and Culture (DoAC). This after contractors for eight modular libraries, along with the Dukuduku Library, were allegedly illegally appointed.
The finding comes hot on the heels of the DA’s recent discovery that the DoAC also unlawfully awarded R7.1 million to the same contractors during the last year, supposedly for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the pandemic. This despite no construction taking place to date.
The DA is shocked but unsurprised by the brazen theft that is going on within this Department, under MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela. Essentially, the DoAC has managed to swindle more than R66.1 million from the provincial Treasury in just the past 12 months.
Evidence of this is contained in an audit report which shows that the Department’s Bid Adjudication Committee was not duly constituted, resulting in the tendering process being manipulated (view here).
The outcome is that the Auditor-General (AG) has insisted that the amount of R59 million be declared irregular expenditure and that the Department’s financial statement be adjusted to reflect this.
The law states that all tenders or bids awarded by Government Entities must be done so by a Bid Adjudication committee. Yet KZN’s DoAC appears to think it can do as it pleases, particularly when it comes to taxpayers’ money.
According to Treasury regulation, Government Entity’s supply chain management system must, inter alia, provide for the adjudication of bids through a bid adjudication committee, the establishment, composition and functioning of bid specification, evaluation and adjudication committees and the selection of bid adjudication members, and the DoAC has failed to follow this process in its entirety, resulting in their tendering process being flawed.
During the 2020/2021 budget meeting held last year, it was proposed that an amount of R32 million be set aside for modular libraries within various KZN districts including KwaNkosi Khumalo, Fraklin, KwaNzimakwe, Sankontshe, KwaKhetha, Denny Dalton, Mfekayo, Nibela, Mpembeni and Ntunjambili. Then there is the Dukuduku library – also a multi-million-rand project.
Today, all of these libraries still remain incomplete despite funds being transferred from treasury and paid to contractors. And at the end of the day it is the communities that are suffering as a result of a lack of access to such facilities.
The findings in the audit have also uncovered that the bid file for the tenders did not include proof of the tender being advertised on the eTender portal or proof that the awarded supplier was published on the eTender portal. This is the process and a requirement by all government departments.
The DoAC has failed to follow to all of the correct policies and procedures in ensuring that the tender process was conducted in a legal manner. These findings set the foundation for a series of illegal transactions that occurred, particularly in terms of the awarding of tenders for PPE for ghost libraries that are yet to exist.
The DA believes that the time has come for these audit reports to be made public. People need to see for themselves how the DoAC is trying to cover up falsified transactions when it comes to the awarding of tenders and the procurement of PPE for libraries that do not exist.
We have submitted a written parliamentary question to the MEC (view here) and expect her to respond without delay. Most importantly, we expect her and Departmental HOD, Mr NP Chonco, to advise who will be held accountable for these actions, to tell us who these contractors were and how all their appointments were made.
The DA remains committed to monitoring this issue. We will continue to expose the rot within this Department and will not hesitate to take appropriate action in the event that the MEC does not.