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'I am not going to repeat mistakes of state capture': Mbalula says he's being asked to 'do things in the dark'

23 May 2022 - 16:04
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says he won’t give in to pressure from “tenderpreneurs”  and repeat the “mistakes” which led to state capture. 

Addressing the media with the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on the cancellation of tenders worth R17.4bn, Mbalula said he was approached by entrepreneurs asking him to do “things in the dark, things which were condemned in the state capture report”.

“I will not do it because I owe them nothing. I am a free soul. I am not owned by anybody. And I am not going to repeat the mistakes we were not only warned [about] but have landed us, as the country, in trouble through the Zondo commission, which laid [down] the law very clear on what happened. We can’t go back there.”  

DispatchLIVE reported last week that angry businesspeople were threatening to take Sanral to court over financial losses after the announcement that a tender to construct the Mtentu mega-bridge, among other projects, would be cancelled.  

Mbalula said he had no role in the procurement processes or any interest in the identity of bidders. 

“My job as the minister is to hold the board accountable and account to parliament. I’ve got no business with tenders. If you’ve got a problem with a tender as a person who has tenders, go to court, do anything in your power to get your tender to be addressed properly.”

Mbalula defended the board’s decision to cancel five contracts and said the decision was in the best interest of SA, though several critical projects would now be delayed. 

“We have learnt invaluable lessons from the advent of state capture, which brought to the fore lapses that paralysed strategic organs of state through rampant corruption that was left unchecked for too long.” 

Malfeasance and irregular contracts compromised service delivery by almost a decade, with major contracts held up in courts at several entities.

“Today we are still paying the price for those irregularities and corrupt practices.”  

Mbalula lauded Sanral's track record on delivering mega-projects in the past.

“Sanral is responsible for major projects that are critical in giving forward momentum to economic recovery and growth. The track record of Sanral over the two decades of its existence has given us comfort that it has the requisite capacity and skills to execute its mandate. We have no reason to believe otherwise.”    

The board has cited, among other reasons for the cancellation, non-compliance with and violation of its resolution which led to a material irregularity in the tendering processes. 

Mbalula said he had asked the board for a report on the cancellation of the five contracts, in line with its responsibilities as enshrined in law. 

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