Gwede Mantashe to fight unhappy power bidder in court

DNG Power alleges tender outcome was influenced by corruption

30 April 2021 - 17:09 By Alexander Winning and Wendell Roelf
Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe's spokesperson says the tender was handled by the department, not the minister. File photo.
Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe's spokesperson says the tender was handled by the department, not the minister. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe and his department said on Friday they will oppose a court bid by a disgruntled bidder to overturn the award of the tender for 2,000MW of emergency power awarded in March. 

The tender, which was intended to bring additional power onto the grid as soon as possible to mitigate SA’s strained power supply, could now be delayed, prolonging the electricity crisis. 

DNG Power wants the high court to review its disqualification from the tender and prevent the government from signing and implementing agreements with the preferred bidders, court papers show.

The government named the eight preferred bidders last month. Turkey’s Karpowership was a major winner, with three of its floating gas power stations among the eight projects chosen to help to end recurring power outages that have cost the economy billions of rand in lost output.

In an affidavit, DNG Power’s Aldworth Mbalati alleged the tender’s outcome was influenced by corruption and that some of the preferred bidders had been unlawfully granted exemptions.

Mantashe’s spokesperson said the tender was handled by the department, not the minister, and referred all questions to the department.

In a statement on Friday, the department said it would oppose the application.

“The department confirms receipt of a high court application from DNG Power Holdings on April 28. The department and minister intend to oppose the matter in court. The department will not, at this stage, comment on the merits of the case as the matter is sub judice,” it said.

The department said it is confident the tender was adjudicated in line with all legal requirements. 

Karpowership did not respond to a request for comment.

The DA has also alleged the emergency power tender was geared towards selecting Karpowership from the start.

Backed by environmental activists opposed to Karpowership’s projects for reasons that include possible marine pollution, the DA has demanded a parliamentary investigation, but so far without success.

The government said in March the eight projects selected as preferred bidders would inject R45bn of investment into the economy and that the first power would flow from August 2022. The projects are due to supply power over 20 years.

- Reuters with additional reporting by Carol Paton


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