SIU must investigate Ndlambe Municipality’s unlawful drought mitigation tender

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL
Shadow MEC for COGTA

The Special Investigation Unit must be tasked with investigating the controversial and unlawful tender awarded to Quality Filtration Systems (QFS) for the Port Alfred Desalination Plant.

The Grahamstown High Court has set aside the tender, saying that the conduct on the part of the Ndlambe Local Municipality was beset with problems and irregularities and ran afoul of proper procurement procedure requirements.

I have now written to Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, to request that he refers the matter to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for investigation as a matter of urgency.

I have also written to the MEC of CoGTA, Xolile Nqatha, to ensure that steps are taken in terms of consequence management and that the Municipal Manager be suspended until such time as the investigation by the SIU is complete.

MEB Energy (Pty) Limited took the Ndlambe Local Municipality, QFS, the Department of Water and Sanitation as well as the Eastern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) to court over what it believed to be an unlawful tender process.

The Ndlambe Local Municipality advertised a bid for a 2ML reverse osmosis plant to be developed on the Kowie River banks to the value of R20 million.

Bidders had to achieve a minimum functionality score of 85%. It later transpired during the proceedings that this score was not achieved by either QFS or MEB Energy. Regardless, the municipality regarded QFS as “the only compliant bidder”. The Municipal Manager simply ignored the prescribed minimum scores for functionality.

After the bid process closed, the municipality entered into private negotiations with QFS well after the closing date of the bid to upgrade the 2ML plant as specified in the bid documentation to a 5ML plant, an upgrade for which they secured R 80 million from the Department of Water Affairs. The site was also changed from the banks of the Kowie River to the Waste Water Treatment Works in Port Alfred thereby using a significantly cheaper option.

Due to the change in the site location, Ndlambe Municipality asked QFS to quote on the change of the discharge location which amounted to R862 500. The cost of the project was now increased from R20 million to R102 580 335.

The Democratic Alliance wants assurances that the R20million has been paid back into the coffers of the municipality by QFS.

Corruption and maladministration are rife at Eastern Cape municipalities. The DA will fight to ensure that public funds are spent with complete transparency and accountability and that value for money is achieved.