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Maverick Citizen Eastern Cape

MEC and superintendent-general called to explain R10m scooter contract to SIU

MEC and superintendent-general called to explain R10m scooter contract to SIU
Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, left, and and outgoing superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe have been asked to appear before a Special Tribunal in connection with the province's scooter contract. (Photos: Mark Andrews / Daily Dispatch / Gallo Images | Lubabalo Ngcukana / Wikipedia)

It is alleged that the scooter contract was marred by irregularities and irrationality and that it was awarded with unusual and unexplained haste.

The Eastern Cape Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, and outgoing superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe are among those who are scheduled to appear before the Special Tribunal on Friday as the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) applies for an interdict to stop any payments in terms of the controversial R10-million scooter ambulance/clinic tender.

The spokesperson for the SIU’s Special Tribunal, advocate Selby Makgotho, said they would seek an interdict to stop any payments under the R10.1-million contract.

The Special Tribunal, chaired by Judge Gidfonia Mlindelwa Makhanya, has been set up to recover public funds lost from the fiscus due to corruption, fraud and illicit money flows.

Makgotho said that apart from Gomba and Mbengashe, the department’s chief financial officer, Msulwa Daca, and representatives of the contractor, Fabkomp (Pty) Ltd, had also been asked to appear.

Brian Harms from Fabkomp said they would not oppose the SIU’s application for an interdict. 

“We believe it is a waste of the court’s time. We have always said we do not have an order number and we are not expecting payment until all parties are satisfied.”

He said they had been in constant contact with the SIU.

The department’s director of communications, Siyanda Manana, did not respond to a request for comment.

A prototype of the motorcycle and sidecar that were to be provided to the Eastern Cape Department of Health. (Photo supplied)

The department procured 100 scooters from Fabkomp in May with emergency funds earmarked for the response to the coronavirus outbreak in the province

After a public launch where Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Gomba were given lifts in a scooter ambulance, Mkhize said the scooters did not comply with standards of emergency transport. The department then said they had shown the minister the “wrong vehicles” and that what they had procured were scooter clinics to be used in primary healthcare for rollout over the next two to three years.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane has also publicly defended the scooter project.

Makgotho said the SIU alleged that the department “purportedly expedited the contract for the procurement of 100 mobile clinic scooters from Fabkomp (Pty) Ltd in light of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“The Special Investigating Unit, which brought the application to the Special Tribunal, contends that the awarding of the R10-million contract was done in contravention of the provisions of section 217 of the Constitution.”

Section 217 states that when an organ of state in the national, provincial or local sphere of government, or any other institution identified in national legislation, contracts for goods or services, it must do so in accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.

Makgotho said the SIU was also investigating alleged contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations.

“Furthermore, it is alleged that the contract was marred by irregularities and irrationality and that it was awarded in an unusual and unexplained haste.

“It is further contended that the department, after hearing of the SIU investigations, resolved that the scooters be modified and continue with the tender with Fabkomp (Pty) Ltd as the service provider and that such a modification constitutes a fresh contract. The SIU alleges that the modifications show that the awarding of the contract was not meant to meet the specified needs of the department.” DM/MC


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