Makhosandile Zulu
3 minute read
11 Feb 2020
2:21 pm

Former SAA Technical senior exec doesn’t know how bidder knew of contract cancellation beforehand

Makhosandile Zulu

The state capture inquiry heard that an employee at an American-based bidding company had informed her colleagues that a contract would be officially retracted a day before it was.

Former HOD procurement at SAAT Nontsasa Memela.

The former head of procurement at South African Airways Technical (SAAT), Nontsasa Memela, has said she cannot respond on behalf of a bidder who was privy to information at the entity before it was officially announced.

The information relates to a decision by the SAAT board to officially retract a components tender in June 2015.

This information was shared by AAR Corporation’s Cheryle Jackson in an email dated 4 June 2015 in which she informed her colleagues that the tender would officially be retracted on the next day.

The evidence leader at the commission of inquiry into state capture, Kate Hofmeyr, on Tuesday asked Memela how Jackson would be aware of the decision to retract the tender before it was officially announced.

“I can’t answer for her, chair,” Memela responded, adding that she did not remember being part of a meeting along with Jackson or any other AAR representative where it was mentioned that the tender would be put on hold.

“I wouldn’t know how she knew,” Memela added, conceding that it was concerning that Jackson knew about the retraction of the tender before this was officially announced.

AAR Corporation was eventually awarded a components supply tender for a period of five years, worth R1.2 billion. AAR was awarded the tender in 2016 along with locally-based JM Aviation.

On Tuesday, the commission also dealt with a trip undertaken by some SAAT board members and Memela to AAR.

Then SAAT CEO Musa Zwane led the entity’s delegation which included then SAAT board members Dr John Tambi and Yakhe Kwinana and Memela on a trip to the United States (US).

ALSO READ: Former SAA Technical procurement head says information she shared with bidder was not confidential

Memela told the commission that she was invited to this trip so that she could offer advice on what SAAT representatives could discuss with those from AAR, in particular, to ensure that the components tender, which was open at the time, was not discussed.

Memela said the trip to AAR had nothing to do with the tender.

However, Hofmeyr said it did “in a different way” because it resulted in the SAAT board resolving to retract the tender so as to pursue a relationship with AAR.

The commission heard that the SAAT delegation travelled to the US from 2 to 9 May 2015 and that the host held dinners for their guests and provided a limousine and private jet for them.

SAAT representatives subsequently meet with those from AAR on 27 May 2015, the commission heard.

Hofmeyr asked Memela whether she maintained that a board member at the time, Mike Kenny, advised her against attending this meeting because AAR was bidding for a tender which was open at the time.

However, Memela said Kenny, in an email discussing the said meeting, had only raised “his concerns, there is nowhere where he is advising me about going to the meeting”.

Memela said another meeting on 29 May 2015, which was also attended by representatives from AAR, among others, was about supplier development and black economic empowerment (BEE).

Memela’s testimony continues, watch live courtesy of the SABC:

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.