The Kopanong Precinct Project, which is meant to house officials of the provincial government in buildings in downtown Johannesburg, has failed an audit of the tender process because officials did not adhere to regulations and policies that control the awarding of tenders.
The hope engendered that the project would support the economy by stimulating the construction industry and job creation, has been dashed by the Department of Infrastructure Development’s manipulation of the tender processes to irregularly propose the appointment of companies for construction, as well as the operation of the precinct.
The project, which was first mooted in 2003, has been plagued by many false starts and has at some point been impacted by former Gauteng politicians such as Mbhazima Shilowa, Paul Mashatile and Nomvula Mokonyane.
In 2015, the Gauteng government announced that the project would be resurrected as a Public Private Partnership, that the construction valued at R7,5 billon would be carried out over 5 years and that the operation of the precinct over a 30-year period would cost the taxpayer R59 billion.
The audit report indicated that not a single bidder for the work was compliant with all the requirements. Some of the bids ignored mandatory pre-qualification criteria, submitted invalid equity ownership and BEE certificates, and did not comply with legislation related to sub-contracting of local labour. As a result, the audit report recommended that the tender be cancelled and re-advertised.
Despite this, there are voices within the administration that wish to ignore the recommendation of the audit report. There can be little doubt that legal action will stop the process in its tracks if the unlawful actions are not rectified.
The fact that in 2022 the process of evaluating tenders is deemed not to be compliant with prescribed legislation and policies, proves that the wheels of government turn very slowly and calls into question the motives of officials who ignore legislated regulations and policies. One would have thought that after the PPE scandal, officials would be more circumspect in evaluating tenders.
Government has lost the confidence of Gauteng residents due to years of inefficiency and wastage as a result government’s inability to efficiently implement high impact infrastructure such as the Kopanong Precinct.
One hopes that this manipulation is not a last gasp attempt by cadres to extract the maximum amount of money from the public purse before they are voted out of power in 2024.