Five Tshwane Officials Suspended Over Controversial Wastewater Treatment Plant Tender

Five Tshwane officials suspended over controversial R295M Rooiwal tender, highlighting accountability issues in critical infrastructure projects with links to a deadly cholera outbreak.

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Mazhar Abbas
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Five Tshwane Officials Suspended Over Controversial Wastewater Treatment Plant Tender

Five Tshwane Officials Suspended Over Controversial Wastewater Treatment Plant Tender

Five senior officials from the City of Tshwane have been placed on precautionary suspension with full pay for their involvement in the controversial R295 million Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant tender. The officials were found guilty on one of the four charges they faced following a year-long internal disciplinary process.

The suspended officials include the head of procurement, head of utility services, director of electricity, head of electricity planning and development, and head of water and sanitation. They were charged with gross negligence in awarding the tender to companies linked to corruption-accused businessman Edwin Sodi.

The officials were accused of allowing the successful bidder, Blackhead Consulting, to proceed without being registered with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and without the required CIDB rating. They were also charged with consensus-based decision-making instead of independent evaluation, including Blackhead Consulting to render professional services when the city had already appointed another company, and evaluating the successful bidder on a 1.4m belt press width when the specification required a 2m width.

The City of Tshwane strongly disagrees with the outcome of the disciplinary process, where the chairperson leading the investigation recommended a one-month suspension without pay. The City has resolved to appeal the decision at the Labour Court, stating that the officials' continued presence would be harmful to the municipality's stability.

Why this matters: The failed Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant project, awarded to companies linked to Edwin Sodi, has possible links to a recent cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal that claimed over 20 lives. The suspension of the senior officials highlights the importance of accountability and proper tender processes in ensuring the delivery of critical infrastructure projects.

The Rooiwal plant upgrade project, which was awarded to Sodi's company, has been investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). Only 60% of the first phase was completed before it was abandoned in 2020. The city is now working to secure the site and complete the upgrades, with the mayor emphasizing the need to avoid the mistakes of the past that compromised contractors. "The city wants to avoid the mistakes of the past that jeopardized contractors," the mayor stated.

Key Takeaways

  • 5 Tshwane officials suspended over R295M Rooiwal tender irregularities
  • Officials found guilty of negligence in awarding tender to corruption-linked firm
  • Tender awarded to Blackhead Consulting despite lacking CIDB registration/rating
  • City to appeal lenient 1-month suspension, citing harm to municipal stability
  • Rooiwal project linked to Hammanskraal cholera outbreak, SIU investigation