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Eskom cancels dodgy R100m tender linked to Mabuza’s niece

The state power utility has cancelled a R100-million tender awarded to a company owned by Nomvula Mabuza, the niece of Eskom’s former chairperson, Jabu Mabuza, after investigations flagged irregularities in the process leading to it being  awarded. 

The contract to maintain the boiler tubes at Medupi power station was awarded to Nomvula’s company, IDS Africa, in February 2019

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said an internal investigation revealed “irregularities in the process leading to the awarding of the contract”. 

“Eskom is currently reviewing the roles played by all stakeholders in awarding the tender, including the role of its own employees. Where applicable, disciplinary processes will be pursued and criminal charges laid. 

“It is important to note that Eskom has not suffered any financial losses as a result of this irregularity as any payment would have to follow services rendered,” Mantshantsha said.

He added that negotiations are under way with the second-placed bidder.

There was no update on the second investigation into billions of rands of maintenance work that was to be awarded to a joint venture between IDS Africa and General Electric. 

The maintenance work is part of a R11-billion in contracts, the awarding of which was scrapped by Eskom’s board during the last stages of the process after it learnt of the conflict of interest. IDS Africa stood to make 70% of the contract. 

The Mail & Guardian has previously reported that neither of the two Mabuzas had declared that they were related. Eskom said the two were distant relatives. 

The M&G reported that Nomvula’s IDS Africa, which she claimed had “47 years plant engineering experience”, was formed only three months after Mabuza was made Eskom board chairperson in 2018.

In less than a year it had secured a R90-million contract at Medupi, which was inexplicably escalated by R10-million by an Eskom team sent to negotiate a 5% discount.

Nomvula had asked that questions be emails to her company address, but she had not responded at the time of publication.

Mabuza’s chief of staff Lwanda Zingwita had previously said: “Mr Mabuza has no knowledge of a company called IDS, what their relationship with Eskom is and has not partaken in anything to do with such an entity. The relationship with Babcock [Engineering, a firm that Jabu had shares in] has always been declared and managed appropriately.” 

This week Eskom announced the resignation of one of its nonexecutive directors, Sifiso Dabengwa, who quit over a difference of opinion with fellow board members on how to deal with an independent investigation report on tender irregularity at Eskom. 

Dabengwa’s resignation comes as Eskom is under pressure for its handling of a disciplinary matter involving its chief operations officer, Jan Oberholzer, who was found to have negotiated a contract with a company he has shares in. He also apparently instructed a subordinate to find a job for a relative without declaring they were related.  

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