Water affairs and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane is in the cross-hairs of the Public Protector after delaying South Africa’s Lesotho Highlands Water Project, allegedly to award contracts to a company she has a long-standing relationship with.
This is according to a report by the City Press, noting that the Public Protector will meet with Mokonyane over the issue this week.
The project has been delayed by over a year due to Mokonyane’s direct intervention, the report said, pushing its completion date to 2025, and pushing the price up to R26 billion.
The entire project is being funded by taxpayers.
Senior officials told the City Press that the delay was forced by Mokonyane so that consulting firm, LTE Consulting, could get involved.
According to the City Press’ findings, LTE has been awarded R5 billion worth of contracts in water and sanitation over the past year. It was also found that the company had donated as much as R3.5 million to the ANC in the past two months.
The standard fee for consultation is 10% of the total cost, the paper said, meaning a spot on the water project could net the company as much as R2.6 billion.
Executives from LTE have reportedly been contacting and paying delegates involved with the project, trying to convince them the give them tenders. When told by officials that the company had to bid for tenders, LTE CEO Thulani Majola allegedly said that he was not interested in bidding, and would approach Mokonyane directly.
Subsequently, the bids for a number of tenders – from other companies – were rejected by the department soon thereafter.
The City Press has detailed a number of hiring and firing practices undertaken by Mokonyane and her department, allegedly in a bid to get “favourable” people involved with the project.
This included the removal of officials who had denied LTE tender opportunities.
Mokonyane has denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations false, malicious and speculative, saying the halt and delays in the project were to incorporate much-needed “transformation”, to benefit black-owned companies.
You can read the full report in the City Press for 10 July 2016