Top Gauteng official placed on leave over R550m William Nicol tender

Johannesburg – Gauteng Premier David Makhura has placed his provincial head of roads and transport Ronald Swartz on special leave following the illegal award of a road construction tender.

Gauteng provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said disciplinary proceedings had already been instituted against Swartz and four other senior officials in the department.

The four officials were members of the Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC) that recommended the award of a R550 million tender to Lubbe Construction for the construction and upgrade of William Nicol Road (K46) in Diepsloot, north of Joburg, in 2014.

A forensic investigation in December 2017 was prompted after a whistleblower, Bonga Majola, told Makhura that an advanced payment of more than R26m had been made to Lubbe Construction in September 2016.

The whistleblower initially told Makhura in June 2017 that he had reported the irregular payment to Swartz and later to Roads and

Transport MEC Ismail Vadi – alleging that none of them acted on the matter.

“The officials face disciplinary action in relation to the contract awarded to Lubbe Construction in 2015 for the K46 road construction project,” Masebe said.

He added that an investigation conducted by the provincial treasury at Makhura’s request had revealed serious irregularities in the awarding of the contract. Masebe said the contract had since been terminated and a new tender would be initiated through the open tender system.

He said Makhura “regards poor management by officials of infrastructure projects and dismal performance by contractors as a serious matter”.

Masebe said the Gauteng provincial government had enlisted the support of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

“The department will embark on a new, open tender procurement process to complete the project in due course. The Gauteng provincial government acknowledges that the regrettable delay in completing the project has caused inconvenience to road users, residents and the business community in the area,” Masebe said.

Independent Media has seen the forensic report by accounting firm BDO that has recommended disciplinary action against Swartz and four of his officials.

In the executive summary report, BDO said Swartz had contravened National Treasury regulations in that he failed to institute an investigation within 30 days after being informed in March last year that Lubbe Construction had been given the advance payment of R26m.

The report also found that Swartz contravened the Public Finances Management Act (PFMA) in that he failed to immediately report in writing to the Gauteng Provincial Treasury the particulars of the irregular payments made to the contractor in September 2016.

The report also found that Swartz had contravened five other prescripts of the PFMA – one of them was that he had failed to disclose the details of the irregular payment made to the contractor during September 2016 as a note to the annual financial statements for the period 2016/2017.

Swartz was also found to have failed to ensure an appropriate procurement and provisioning system that was fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective when he approved the Bid Adjudication Committee recommendation pertaining to the alternative pavement structure proposal made by Lubbe Construction as this potentially prejudiced other tenders that were evaluated on the conventional method.

No date for their disciplinary hearings has been set.

Political Bureau

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97405781 - Top Gauteng official placed on leave over R550m William Nicol tender
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