Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s signing of a proclamation authorizing the Special Investigation Unit (SUE) to investigate expenses related to a failed tender to refurbish the Rooiwal water treatment plant has been welcomed from various quarters.
The proclamation is on Friday in the government Gazette announced. It empowers the SOE to investigate the procurement, contracting for products or services by or on behalf of the Tshwane Metro Council, and payments made in the first phase of the urgent renovation project at the Rooiwal waste water treatment works. This includes any improper behavior by officials or employees of the metro board, or any other concerned.
The investigation is carried out into any steps regarding the Rooiwal plant that were taken between 1 January 2018 and the date of proclamation, in this case 22 September this year.
Cilliers Brink, mayor of Tshwane, welcomed the investigation and says it is exactly what the coalition government asked for: a high-level investigation with possible criminal charges against “all tenderpreneurs who benefited illegally”.
Brink says the investigation will also help the city in its efforts to clean up Tshwane’s supply management department and help recover the “stolen money” the city needs to provide services to its residents.
In October 2019, CMS, NJR and Blackhead were designated as a joint venture in terms of a tender for construction work in phase 1 of the renovation work at the Rooiwal plant. The tender amounted to just over R290 million.
The company failed to fulfill the contract and the renovation work was characterized by long delays and continued non-compliance – which led to the city’s decision to suspend the tender in August last year, says Brink.
“The group has done 60% of the Rooiwal upgrade work, despite all the money the city spent on phase 1 of it. Furthermore, a forensic investigation showed that the tender was awarded illegally. Disciplinary steps regarding this against several of the city’s officials who are involved are underway.”
The mayor also asked the city manager to blacklist the joint venture. The same request applies to its shareholders and director, which includes the accused Edwin Sodi of state capture.
This means that the company, its shareholders and directors are regarded by the national treasury as limited suppliers. This prevents them from doing business with the state for five years.
“As mayor of Tshwane, I am determined to fight corruption and fulfill our original promise to be a clean, efficient and corruption-free government.”
ActionSA also welcomed the investigation and described it as a “victory” for the party.
“The Tshwane metro kept itself blind for almost two decades while citizens struggled to get access to clean and potable water and other services,” says Funzi Ngobeni, party chairman in Gauteng.
“Based on the evidence gathered in the investigation launched in 2021, it was argued that the tender was corruptly awarded to two companies owned by Sodi who were inexperienced and incompetent to carry out the renovation work in phase 1 at the to lead Rooiwal waste water treatment plant.”
Ngobeni says the investigation will bring to justice all those who are linked to corruption cases in Tshwane and who have been guilty of mismanagement, the deliberate loss of public money and misconduct – and who have harmed public interests.
Earlier, ActionSA also lodged complaints with the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission against the city and former mayor Randall Williams for their “failure to act responsibly”.