News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
7 Mar 2020
11:59 am

Aurecon denies tender played role in Tshwane being placed under administration

News24 Wire

Engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon has denied its tender contributed to the City of Tshwane being placed under administration.

EFF and ANC councillors can be seen walking out of the Tshwane council meeting, collapsing Council, 16 January 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles

On Wednesday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile announced the embattled municipality, which has no mayor, had been placed under administration.

According to City Press, some of the reasons cited by Makhura was the flagrant disregard for the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), especially those regarding procurement processes that eroded good governance in the City as can be evidenced by the tenders irregularly awarded to Aurecon and GladAfrica.

Makhura said he took the decision because he was placing the residents of Tshwane first. News24 earlier reported the ANC in Tshwane claimed Aurecon’s scope of work was irregularly extended. The ANC alleged the initial cost of the project was R14.46 million, while the City had approved payment of R16.74 million to date and later R2.1 million in additional funds were for services required by the City that were not included in the initial scope of work, or in Aurecon’s appointment letter or proposal.

Deeply concerned

In a statement released by Aurecon on Friday, it claimed it was deeply concerned at the amount of disinformation doing the rounds about its appointment to provide project and programme advisory services that would optimise the City’s property portfolio.

In 2018, the company was appointed by the municipality to advise the City on which of its 52 000 properties to sell, lease or develop. Aurecon spokesperson Sonja Jansen van Rensburg said Makhura’s announcement that its contract with the municipality had disregarded the MFMA was harmful to its reputation.

“We are a highly professional organisation with a proud track record and sound, world-class governance mechanisms. Because of our long-standing commitment to ethical business practices and good governance, we today commit to subjecting the procurement process to an external audit if necessary – and we will co-operate with any forensic or criminal investigations that may arise, or any investigation by the Auditor-General,” Van Rensburg added.

Transparency Aurecon said it was essential there was transparency and full disclosure, so the integrity of the project was preserved and that residents were getting full value for their money.

Van Rensburg claimed the company had completed a thorough internal review of all available aspects of the project and was confident there was no impropriety in the awarding of the contract, or the payment terms that were set by the City. Aurecon denied allegations it had colluded with former City employee Zania Lambert who was later appointed as an Aurecon subconsultant.

“We reject suggestions that there was collusion around the use of Lambert on the project who only offered her services as a subconsultant to our company after resigning from the City of Tshwane.

“Aurecon had no relationship with Lambert prior to our contract and there was no informal or formal communication that we are aware of between Aurecon and Ms Lambert before she left the City of Tshwane on 2 April 2018,” Van Rensburg said.

She added the company was awarded the contract on 20 April 2018 and its first contact with Lambert was during the first week of May 2018.

“We are aware that her name was erroneously included as a contact person on the contract award letter. At that point in time on 20 April 2018, she had already left the City’s employ. The City of Tshwane can provide more information on this, but we certainly cannot be held responsible for any administrative errors on its part.

“There was no collusion between Lambert and Aurecon. Payment schedule questions have been raised in some quarters about a payment that was made to Aurecon before the service level agreement [SLA] was signed.

“The facts are that Aurecon’s first invoice was submitted to the City before the SLA was signed, but this was in accordance with the terms of the request for quotations [RfQ] that was issued by the City. The RfQ document records the start date of deliverables, with the majority being upon appointment.

“Aurecon was required to commence services upon appointment, which was prior to the signing of the SLA. The effective date in the SLA is documented as 20 April 2018, which was the date of appointment. Aurecon’s first invoice was paid on 29 June 2018, more than two months later,” said Van Rensburg.

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