Aurecon, the company at the centre of a City of Tshwane tender scandal, has hit back at allegations of impropriety.
The company issued a rebuke of allegations made by the ANC of impropriety in the awarding of the contract and other claims of irregularities, in a statement on Wednesday.
The firm was awarded a contract to advise the City on which of its 52,000 properties to sell, lease or develop. On Monday, the ANC said it had “proof” of several irregularities related to the awarding of the Aurecon tender.
The ANC in Tshwane said it was going to lay charges with the Hawks and lay a complaint with the public protector. The City has launched its own investigation into the awarding of the tender.
On Wednesday, Aurecon said that it welcomed the City’s investigation and dismissed claims that there were irregularities in the contract.
Earlier this week, the ANC alleged that, shortly before the contract was awarded, a senior official at the municipality, Zania Lambert, resigned to start consulting for Aurecon on the project.
The party alleged that Lambert, the former deputy director of the City’s property portfolio, was in cahoots with the municipality to “fix” the contract.
But Aurecon said this was not accurate.
The company said that it had no relationship with Lambert before the contract commenced, and said there was “no informal or formal communication that we are aware of” between Aurecon and Lambert before she left the City, on April 2, 2018.
Aurecon said the contract was awarded on April 20, 2018, and that its first contact with Lambert was during the first week of May 2018.
“It is important to note that developing the project’s scope of work was conducted by the Group Head: Property Management department of the City. The adjudication and award were undertaken by the City’s Bid Adjudication Committee and Supply Chain Management department.”
“We are aware that her name was erroneously included as a contact person on the Contract Award letter. At that point in time (April 20th), she had already left the City’s employ. The City of Tshwane can provide more information on this, but we certainly cannot be held responsible for any administrative errors on its part,” the company said.
Aurecon said there were also questions raised about a payment made to it before a Service Level Agreement (SLA) had been signed with the City.
The ANC said this was unlawful.
Again, Aurecon said there was nothing untoward about it.
Aurecon said its first invoice was submitted before the SLA was signed, but this was because the City wanted work on the contract to start “upon appointment”, meaning that Aurecon would have had to start work before the SLA was signed.
The company said its first invoice was paid on June 29, 2018, more than two months after the SLA was actually signed.
The ANC also alleged that the scope of work of Aurecon was irregularly extended. Aurecon said this was “completely untrue”.
It said that initial costing of the project was R14.46m, while the City had approved payment of R16.74m to date.
The additional R2.1m was for services required by the City that were not included in the initial scope of work, or in Aurecon’s appointment letter or proposal.
And all processes were followed in approving the variation, Aurecon said.
The company also took issue with allegations that its use of sub-consultants was irregular.
It said that its initial proposal included agreements with sub-consultants, and so the City was aware that it would be using these.
The company also rejected claims that it was irregularly awarded the contract.
“We take particular offense at suggestions that our project is ‘yet another tender scandal’, and comparisons with other City of Tshwane tenders that may have been brought into question. There is no basis for these comparisons – because there is no ‘scandal’, only disinformation.
“Unlike some of the other projects in question, Aurecon was appointed by the City of Tshwane to a panel based on a City of Tshwane procurement process that complied with its supply chain management policies.
“Aurecon was invited to respond to an RfQ (issued to various panel members) based on a competitive procurement process under the auspices of the City of Tshwane’s Supply Chain Management department.
“Finally, Aurecon’s invoices are based on agreed project deliverables – and these deliverables are being met, in line with the timelines set by the City,” Aurecon said.