Durban – Tenderpreneurs in the Ugu district municipality, South Coast region, feel they are entitled to tenders from the municipality.
They demand them, and when they don’t get them, they begin to hate and plot against those in leadership positions.
These were some of the startling statements made by Ugu mayor Sizwe Ngcobo at the weekend when responding to questions and remarks made on his presentation during the first day of the ANC’s Lower South Coast regional lekgotla, which ended on Saturday.
The response was delivered in a closed session of the lekgotla, therefore not much information was immediately available to draw a clear picture of the severity of the problem.
Ngcobo said: “We are hated because of tenders. Opportunists hate those who do not buckle under the pressure of tender demands from those who feel entitled because of their connectedness.
“This happens on tenders in general. This is a cause for concern because it affects the running of municipal programmes on service delivery.”
Ngcobo said he would love to doaway with the use of water tankers, but the state of water affairs in the district does not permit that.
“The use of water tankers must stop, but what do we do in cases of emergency? The truck owners do not demand payment upfront. Another challenge is that if we fix our own trucks, we fix six and another six break down.
“Let us not second or elect one another with the aim of benefiting from tenders. Some comrades come openly and ask for work (tenders) and once things don’t go their way, then people are hated because those individuals did not get tenders.
“It’s those tender promises made to candidates that are the cause of fights and killings,” said Ngcobo.
At least two ANC councillors, who asked not to be named, said the tender issues were difficult to solve because those with influence are the ones causing the problem.
A councillor said: “Those who are influential are pulling the strings. There is a mentality that a tender of more than R40 million cannot go to that company, it must be awarded to a favoured, particular company.
’’The company awarded a tender obviously gives kickbacks. It is those in leadership who are fighting among themselves to get a bigger slice of the pie.
“This, sadly, happens at the expense of the voters. The mayor knows it. He is trying not to entertain it, but the more the number of those without conscience, the lesser the chance of him winning this battle.”
Another councillor said the solution to the tender “frenzy” would be to find a way to have politicians and administrative leadership in place that will not influence council committees for self-enrichment.
“Among those in top positions, there are a greedy few. We won’t see the turnaround we are seeking in the municipality if we still have people who have no qualms to display their unhappiness when a big tender is not awarded to a company of their choice.
“Projects come to a standstill if a tender is awarded to a ‘wrong’ company.
“Even councillors have a hand in this, and the same people who elected us suffer in the end. A councillor would turn people against a contractor if he or those in his circle were left out of the project. That’s why some projects are left half done,” said the councillor.
ANC regional co-ordinator Xolani Xulu said he heard the mayor’s comments but had not engaged with him to understand what he meant.
“There’s no mandate from the ANC that says people should demand tenders.
“It happens that when branches interact at this level (lekgotla) some questions or remarks sound harsh and attacking in the manner in which they are presented. We will engage further with the mayor.”
He said debates were likely to be heated and in this case, the ongoing water challenges in the district could have had a role in the manner in which the engagement was carried out.