The Democratic Alliance, (DA) said it 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 a recent discovery that the DoAC also unlawfully awarded R7.1 million to the same contractors last year, apparently for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“We are appalled by the brazen theft that is going on within this Department, under MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela- but it’s not really surprising,” said DA MP Bradley Singh.
“Essentially, the DoAC has managed to swindle more than R66.1 million from the provincial Treasury in the past year”.
Evidence of this is contained in an audit report, which the DA has seen. It shows the Department’s Bid Adjudication Committee was not duly constituted, resulting in the tendering process being manipulated.
“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,” said Singh.
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.
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. All of these libraries still remain incomplete despite funds being transferred from treasury and paid to contractors,” said Singh.
“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 DA now wants 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.”
The DA has submitted a written parliamentary question to the MEC to respond to their findings.