The Portfolio Committee on Labour today received a briefing update on the challenges the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is faced with in the Western Cape lease agreement.
CCMA’s Director Ms Nerine Kahn told the Committee the CCMA was faced with a situation where it would find itself without office space on 16 November this year. The challenge arose when a tender was wrongly awarded to Potlako Investments who could not deliver in return.
Ms Kahn said the building was not ready for occupation in March 2015, the time the CCMA should have moved in, and that beneficial occupation (commitment to complete refurbishments prior to tenant paying rent) could not happen.
“In the meantime, we have approached the High Court for a reversal of this decision,” she said.
The Committee was informed that the CCMA’s Supply Chain Manager, Mr Sizwe Mayaba, had unilaterally changed bid specifications for the lease tender (amounting to R100m in 10 years). It was revealed that he might have influenced the process of awarding the tender to Potlako Investments CC, as he sat in all three committees (bid specification, bid evaluation, and bid adjudication) that oversaw the tendering process. Potlako Investments CC had in the meantime changed its name, and sold the building in a different name.
Members wanted to know how a wrong bidder could have been awarded the tender and whether or not this bordered on the dereliction of duty. Members also said it appeared that the winner had breached the contract twice.
Committee member Ian Ollis said it appeared that Potlako had twice breached the contract by failing to meet the March 2015 deadline and, secondly, selling the building while the court process had not been finalised.
Members sought clarity on the role of Mr Mayaba, who was allowed to resign midway through a disciplinary process.
The Committee Chairperson, Ms Lumka Yengeni, asked if Ms Kahn, as accounting officer, was aware of the conduct of Mr Mayaba (sitting in all committees) during the bidding stage.
“Were there any complaints from the three committees regarding the fact that he sat in all of them? Is it above board that he could sit in all committees overseeing the tendering process? Did that make you uncomfortable as an accounting officer?” Ms Yengeni asked.
She voiced concerns that none of the senior officials spotted from the aert that bid specifications had been altered, and said it looked as though Mr Mayaba was a sacrificial lamb.
“The executive and the accounting officer should at all times be alert to staff wanting to interfere with tender processes. You’re dealing with a lot of public funds and people would want to benefit. A lot more other tenders might have been manipulated in the same manner,” she said.
The Committee was told that it would not have been possible for a reasonable person to pick up the changes in the bid specifications, and that this was not a failure on any senior official of the CCMA. Members were assured that no money had been lost as a result of the transgression.
Ms Kahn said it was important that a solution is found soon, so that the CCMA could deliver to the users.
Source : Parliament of South Africa