SCORPIO

Ace Magashule’s sons each bag a Free State Covid-19 contract

By Pieter-Louis Myburgh 31 July 2020
Caption
Thato Magashule. (Photo: sourced) / ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. (Photo: Gallo Images/ALON SKUY) / Tshepiso Magashule. (Photo: sourced)

Two companies owned by the sons of former Free State premier and current ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule, have clinched Covid-19 contracts with a combined value of R2.7-million. This, after the Free State’s treasury, the MEC of which is alleged to be close to Magashule, centralised the province’s procurement for Covid-19-related goods and services.

The Free State provincial treasury has awarded contracts worth R2.7-million to the sons of ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule.

The Free State’s latest tender bulletin, published on 17 July, contains the names of around 70 businesses that received contracts for Covid-19-related goods and services, with a combined value of R173-million.

The list includes the names of Motheko Projects and Marvel Deeds. Tshepiso Magashule, the ANC SG’s eldest son, is Motheko Project’s sole director, company records reveal. 

Tshepiso’s younger brother, Thato, is listed as the sole director of Marvel Deeds. 

According to the tender bulletin, Motheko Projects received a contract worth R2.29-million from the provincial treasury. Marvel Deeds’ contract is valued at R427,221. 

It is not clear what goods or services the Magashule brothers’ companies were contracted to deliver, but the tender bulletin confirms that these deals relate to government authorities’ ongoing fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The contracts awarded to Motheko Projects and Marvel Deeds were listed under contract number, “SCMQ 5 COVID 19 2020”. 

“I have done nothing wrong. Please check with the Free State provincial treasury,” Tshepiso Magashule told Scorpio. He did not respond to queries regarding the type of goods or services his company was contracted to deliver in the Free State. 

Thato Magashule did not respond to our queries.

Ace Magashule told Scorpio that he was not aware that his sons’ companies had bid for, or won, the contracts. He also strongly denied that he had influenced the procurement process.

“I have got nothing to do with Free State government matters or tenders. I am out of that space,” said the ANC official.

Two sources familiar with the Free State’s political environment allege that Magashule and the provincial treasury’s MEC, Gadija Brown, are close. 

“That relationship has not changed since Magashule left the province,” claimed one source. 

Magashule also strongly denied this.

“I am not close to anybody. I work with the leadership of the ANC and members of government, but I have no special relationship with anyone,” said Magashule. 

The provincial treasury’s spokesperson, Tshidiso Mokokoane, maintained that there would be nothing wrong with Magashule’s sons securing such contracts. 

“Even if they are the sons of the former premier in the province, it doesn’t mean that they must not participate in the mainstream economy of the province,” said Mokokoane.

In a written response to Scorpio, the provincial treasury rejected insinuations that MEC Brown and Magashule had a close relationship.

“With reference to [such] ‘rumours’, it is unclear what is meant by ‘very close’ in this context and it will be important if further clarity can be provided to ensure that a more accurate response is provided,” reads the response.

The Free State treasury contended that Brown would not have played any role in the contracts awarded to Magashule’s sons.

“As a matter of law the Member of the Executive Council as the Executive Authority has no direct role in the procurement process and secondly does not influence the Supply Chain Management process followed by the department. Therefore the MEC has no direct influence or autonomy to decide how procurement is allocated, and thus is satisfied that the accounting officer and his team has followed due process in appointing all relevant suppliers,” the treasury stated. (The full response is available at the end of this article.)

According to Motheko’s website, the company offers a wide array of services, including electrical engineering, construction and consulting services for the ICT sector.

Motheko also offers “specialised cleaning services for those extreme or technically difficult areas”, according to the company’s website. 

Earlier tender records indicate that Motheka had submitted separate bids to the Mangaung metro in 2018 for the “supply and delivery of paint” and for the sorting and printing of bills and disconnection letters. 

The company was established in 2016 and appears to operate from an address in Bloemfontein.

Marvel Deeds, on the other hand, is registered to an address in Durban’s Berea area. The company does not appear to have a website. It was established in 2012 but subsequently went into deregistration in 2018. The deregistration process was cancelled in early 2019, according to company records. 

It is not clear whether Marvel Deeds has any experience or track record in delivering goods or services required for combatting a pandemic. 

One document available online indicates that Marvel Deeds had submitted a bid to the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) in February 2020. This was for the appointment of a panel of service providers to supply and deliver office stationery to SASSETA. 

In May 2020, the Free State government said its decision to centralise the procurement for Covid-19 goods and services was partly made to support the local economy. 

Pule Mabe, the ANC’s national spokesperson, said the party wished to “re-emphasise [its] 54th National Conference resolution which requires [it] to fight any form of corruption and state of capture irrespective of who is involved.”

“As the ANC [we] therefore call on the law enforcement agencies to act against any malfeasance without any fear, favour and prejudice as it relates to the allegations on the supply chain of Covid-19,” said Mabe. 

“The  Free State Provincial Government took a conscious decision not to procure Covid-19 related items through the National Transversal Contracts or National Central Procurement…  because of the deliberate decision to support (to a practical extend) Free State local business and hence the decision was taken that Provincial Treasury must centrally procure Covid-19 related PPE and cloth mask,” local news website The Insider at the time quoted provincial treasury spokesperson Andrew Visagie as saying.

These latest revelations regarding the contracts secured by Magashule’s sons come amid growing concerns that government’s procurement efforts in response to the pandemic may have been captured by political elites and their families. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, this week took a leave of absence following a report by the Sunday Independent detailing a R125-million Covid-19 contract awarded to a company owned by Diko’s husband. The company, Royal Bhaca Projects, received the contract from Gauteng’s department of health.

After an uncharacteristically quick response from the ANC’s structures in the province, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku also took a leave of absence pending investigations into the matter. 

It has since also come to light that Katleho Mokonyane, a daughter of former Gauteng premier and ANC NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane, benefitted from the Gauteng health department’s controversial Covid-19 procurement. 

Scorpio has established that Katleho’s company, Tuwo Rhodesia, secured a contract worth R2.7-million to supply soap to the department. Neither Katleho Mokonyane nor her fellow director in the venture responded to queries.

Pule Mabe, the ANC’s national spokesperson, said the party wished to “re-emphasise [its] 54th National Conference resolution which requires [it] to fight any form of corruption and state of capture irrespective of who is involved.”

“As the ANC [we] therefore call on the law enforcement agencies to act against any malfeasance without any fear, favour and prejudice as it relates to the allegations on the supply chain of Covid-19,” said Mabe. 

But Mabe added that the party would need more information on the contracts awarded to Magashule’s son before it could comment on this development.

“It will be appreciated if you can find out from the provincial treasury on the process and requirements they followed in awarding the contract. We therefore have limitations to answer on some internal regulatory requirements in awarding of contracts to entities and consenting individuals,” Mabe told Scorpio

“We won’t tolerate any looting of public resources, don’t stand by and won’t support. Lastly we challenge anyone to go and lay charges if there is criminality on the matter,” the party’s spokesperson concluded. DM

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