A former associate of Deputy President David Mabuza has finally withdrawn a claim for a loss of profit against the Mpumalanga department of agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs in a R187 million tender to provide tractors (and maintain them) to subsistence farmers.
The department had awarded the three-year contract to Bay Drive 158 in 2011. However, for unexplained reasons, payments were stopped after the company had only rendered services amounting to R42.6 million.
Bay Drive had claimed in a letter of demand dated October 21 2016 that it had lost a profit of R8.7 million, which it would have earned for providing the rest of the service worth R145.3 million.
Agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs head Cain Chunda confirmed this week that the matter would be taken off the court roll after Bay Drive director Harrington Dhlamini indicated that he had withdrawn the claim.
He added that the department had been able to save money from such claims.
Dhlamini’s involvement with the department in these kinds of tenders began in 2008, when his company Sizwangendaba/Lowveld Trekker JV – which he co-owned with former partner Patrick Chirwa and a joint venture partner, Lowveld Trekkers – was awarded a similar tender worth R230 million.
However, the integrity management unit in the office of Mabuza, who was then the Mpumalanga premier – found many irregularities when the tender was investigated, including a failure to budget for the project.
Despite this, the unit’s recommendations were not implemented and the report was suppressed, allegedly because of Dhlamini’s and Chirwa’s association with Mabuza.
After City Press exposed this scandal in 2011, the contract was allowed to reach its expiry date, but it appeared then that Dhlamini was given another shot at it – this time without Chirwa.
The two men had become estranged after a fallout and had ceased doing business together.
City Press’ investigation at that time indicated that the duo were Mabuza’s co-directors in registered business entities. Dhlamini’s and Chirwa’s main business was town planning, but they also had interests in various other spheres.
Before the contract was awarded to Sizwangendaba, the service provider had been Kanjani.
Kanjani was involved in litigation with the department until June 22, when the Pretoria High Court dismissed its claim of R69 million.
According to court papers, Kanjani had submitted invoices worth R190 million, but the department had only paid about R121 million before stopping further payments on the grounds that it had discovered “invoicing irregularities”.
The court dismissed Kanjani’s claim with costs after the department lodged an application for it to do so because of Kanjani’s “undue delay over seven years”.
Judge Cassim Sardiwalla said:
“The application succeeds and Kanjani’s action, contained in its summons and under particulars of a claim issued against the department, is dismissed with costs of two counsel on the attorney and client scale, inclusive of all costs previously reserved,” he ruled.