LISTEN | Tape 'links fleet boss to MEC's payola'

Winner of tender billions said to have paid for ANC events

03 February 2019 - 00:05 By MPUMZI ZUZILE and BONGANI FUZILE



A businessman who scored millions in government tenders is believed to be the voice in an audio clip bragging about how he gave an MEC R1m for an ANC Women's League conference so he could get more contracts with her department.
"I have been assisting her, even for the ANCWL conference I gave her a million rand to assist her. We are in good books. Even now for the provincial conference I assisted her," the businessman says.
The comment is believed to have been made by Senzo Tsabedze, whose fleet management company Afrirent has won several big government tenders, including a R51m contract in the Eastern Cape and a R2.1bn contract with the department of rural development & land affairs.
The man believed to be Tsabedze is talking to a government official, discussing contracts as well as an MEC believed to be Eastern Cape Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana, who is also the women's league deputy secretary-general.
Tikana is not named in the recording, but hers is the only department in the province that deals with fleet management and she is also the only Eastern Cape MEC who is an office bearer in the women's league.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said: "Business [makes donations] with the hope that it might prevent governments from developing regulatory laws that can negatively affect businesses.
"The danger with this kind of funding is that they might unduly influence government policies in a manner where you will see political leaders being corrupted, thus leading to them blurring the administration lines. This will in due course lead to leaders being involved in eroding government systems to ensure their preferred companies benefit."
In the recording, the businessman can be heard telling a senior transport department employee he paid R1m to help an MEC with the 2015 women's league national conference. He also helped the same MEC with the ANC provincial conference held in East London in October 2017.
He says he has been "working with her from the beginning".
"We have a few things that we are working on. Lento yeFleet [This fleet management thing] is not the only thing."
LISTEN | Businessman tells of giving R1m to ANC Women's League
Tsabedze did not deny or confirm it was his voice on the recording.
"Political parties raise and receive funds from business so they can implement their programmes," he said. "As a business we make contributions towards political parties and never to an individual.
"In relation to the voice clip, I have nothing to add. I have never paid or assisted any MEC with funding."
He said Afrirent had a "proven 15-year track record" and "exceptional integrity and high levels of professionalism".
Tikana told the Sunday Times that people would often "name drop" to get tenders.
"At no stage would I have anything [to do] with issuing of tenders or fundraising of the ANC because I was never a treasurer of either the ANCWL or the ANC.
"I have listened to this recording and nowhere does it make reference to me as MEC Tikana."
Afrirent does not have any other contracts with other provincial government departments.
In July 2015, the Eastern Cape transport department awarded Afrirent a three-year contract to install trackers in the province's 2,300 vehicles. The contract included fleet management services.
The contract expired in January last year, but was extended month by month to allow the department time to find a new service provider.
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The department has not been able to secure a new service provider, leaving the entire provincial fleet vulnerable to abuse and theft because the tracking devices installed by Afrirent are no longer operational.
Transport spokesperson Khuselwa Rantjie said her department had spent R51.7m on the Afrirent contract but refused to say what steps were in place to secure a new service provider.
Eastern Cape treasury head of department Daluhlanga Majeke said that permission had been given for the department to keep Afrirent on a month-to-month basis until September last year, to allow the transport department time to appoint a new service provider.
"Notwithstanding the approval granted by provincial treasury, the department of transport was notified that the resultant expenditure was irregular due to the protracted delays by the department in finalising a new contract," said Majeke.
Rural development & land affairs spokesperson Phuti Mabelebele said that in October 2017, Afrirent had been awarded a R2.1bn contract with the department to deliver tractors and agricultural equipment to KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. To date, R9m had been paid for work completed.

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