Former SABC board members have denied suggestions that there was any link between their resignations this week and the debacle over the awarding of a security tender to Mafoko Security Patrols.
“We did not resign because of the tender,” they said in a statement released yesterday.
Speaking as the former interim board of the state broadcaster, they dismissed allegations by the DA’s spokesperson on communications Phumzile van Damme this week, in which she suggested that there may be a link between their resignations and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into how Mafoko, which was ranked second in the bidding process, was awarded the tender.
“It should be clear that there is no link at all between the two events,” the former interim board said.
The board members said they were assured during deliberations at a board meeting in June last year that “we were entitled to consider awarding the tender to a bidder other than the highest scoring bidder, namely Mjayeli Security”.
“This has since been confirmed during a later legal review by our external legal advisers relating to our decision and documents that served before us,” it said.
“One of our considerations in arriving at our decision was the fact that the scoring difference between the two was 99 and 98.87 points, which effectively meant that the difference between Mjayeli and Mafoko was 0.13 points.
“We had no less than eight considerations, which we took into account in arriving at the decision to award the tender to Mafoko and not Mjayeli.”
They said that the interactions between the interim board and the SIU regarding the Mafoko tender began with the submission of whistle-blower allegations regarding collusive tendering between Mjayeli and SABC staff last year.
“Our submissions were geared towards providing relevant documents as well as an exposition of the correct legal framework relating to procurement processes which a public entity such as the SABC must follow,” the former interim board said.
“We were assured by our external legal advisers in the submissions made to the SIU that we had acted in accordance with the legal prescripts pertaining to supply chain management.”
It has since emerged that an affidavit from a former SABC employee sacked for making an irregular appointment and payments to a supplying company is the apparent source of allegations of malfeasance by members the SABC board.
Former SABC supply chain deputy head Ayanda Mkhize reportedly claims she “blew the whistle” on the “irregular appointment” of second-ranked security company Mafoko.
Her affidavit was apparently leaked to a journalist at the Sunday Independent, which reported that members of the board were being investigated by the SIU for their involvement in irregularities that could result in criminal charges. This prompted rumours that the resignations of the four board members this week were linked to the SIU probe.
But the former interim board says that board records reveal that it was them who called for an investigation after Mkhize questioned perceived contradictions in the legal advice the board obtained.
Mkhize and four other employees and former employees subsequently faced disciplinary charges.
Meanwhile, another legal opinion by Mncedisi Ndlovu & Sedumedi Attorneys (MNS) found that the board erred when it appointed Mafoko.
But the board also raised the issue that SABC management unlawfully favoured the highest scoring company and decided to award it to the next best bidder.
In the latest turn of events, SABC instructed MNS to apply to the Johannesburg High Court for an order that would allow it to extend Mafoko’s services until the allegations of tender rigging and impropriety were fully investigated by the SIU.
The move followed an application by the highest scoring company, Mjayeli Security, seeking to compel the appointment of Mafoko to be reversed and set aside.
However, in their papers, the SABC board argued that there were allegations that Mjayeli was awarded the contract unlawfully.
In a document that City Press has seen, the SIU says it will submit its final report by March and has also joined the SABC court action seeking Mjayeli’s case to be placed on hold.