A GOVERNMENT blacklist set up to name and shame officials and businesses accused of tender fraud and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) fronting is yet to contain a single name. This as a probe launched four years ago by the Department of Public Works into fronting, appears to have come to nought.
The Register for Tender Defaulters, housed at National Treasury, was launched four years ago to blacklist those convicted of fraudulent procurement practices for up to 10 years, but the National Treasury’s spokesperson Thoraya Pandy confirmed that not one name had yet been entered on the register.
She added that the Director General of the National Treasury, Lesetja Kganyago, had recently written to prosecution agencies to inform them of the register.
The Department of Public Works’s investigation was launched in 2005 when the department’s then minister Stella Sigcau announced that it had given the names of 15 companies – some of them listed JSE entities – to the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA) for further criminal investigation.
But four years on no announcement has been made by the department or the NPA on the investigations.
A frustrated Sam Moleshiwa, president of the National Black Contractors and Allied Trade Forum, said “nothing” had come of the department’s probe. He said he had raised the question of what had become of the department’s probe at a meeting on July 16 with the public works minister Geoff Doidge, who said he would look into it.
While the department’s spokesperson, Lucky Mochalibane did not return phone calls or emails from Business Report on the probe, the minister’s spokesperson Koketso Sachane said the minister had not been made aware of the probe since taking office last year, but would “investigate the matter internally”.
Late last year a spokesperson for the department had said the Scorpions were dealing with the individual cases that related to fronting and that the matter was at a “sensitive stage”. The Department said last year in September that it would meet with the Scorpions to finalise the matter.
Both the spokespersons of the NPA and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, which has replaced the Scorpions, said they were able to provide more information without the names of the companies themselves.
The probe was conducted by the verification company VerifySolutions, but the telephone number listed on their website goes unanswered.
Meanwhile the City of Cape Town is still attempting to place a Cape Town businessman on the Register for Tender Defaulters.
In March the former director of Paarl-based Kilotreads and current director of Themba Tyres, Southey Grobbelaar pleaded guilty to setting up the BEE front before the Cape High Court in a plea bargain with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Grobbelaar was fined nearly R1 million.
City of Cape Town spokesperson Pieter Cronjé said the city was in the process of blacklisting Themba Tyres and had reported Themba Tyres to the National Treasury.
He said the city would not do any further business with Themba Tyres based on the “prima facie” evidence of abuse of the supply chain management system.
But Grobbelaar’s attorney, Zane Meyer of Faure and Faure said he had yet to hear from the city or National Treasury on the blacklisting. He added that his client could also not be blacklisted by the National Treasury as this had not formed part of his client’s plea bargaining agreement.
This article appeared in Business Report in 1 October 2009.
Stephen Timm is a