BCM defies court after tender row

BUFFALO City Metro has given a small East London-based company lucrative rights to advertising billboards in apparent contravention of a high court order.

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The court had ruled that the appointment of the company was flawed and illegal.

Hluma Stationers’ outdoor media business, Hluma Media, now owns potentially valuable sites for advertising billboards, including one across the R72 road between the East London industrial development road and the airport, which has attracted ANC advertising linked to the May 7 elections.

But the company’s owner, Zimbini Vazi, claims the legal dispute around outdoor advertising in Buffalo City “seems to have died a natural death” and the court interdict “has lapsed” after competitor Continental failed to ensure a review of BCM’s preference for Hluma.

Vazi’s family has strong, links to the ANC.

Her sister, Viwe’s company received R899 000 in payments ostensibly for catering, linked to the Mandela memorial fraud.

The sisters’ father, Mlandeli, is a well-known East London businessman and a close confidante of ANC regional secretary Phumlani Mkolo, at the centre of the Mandela payments.

Matriarch Phumla Vazi was involved in a corruption scandal when, as chief financial officer (CFO) of the provincial health department, she authorised huge payments to companies owned by Viwe.

The metro has confirmed that it has contracts with Hluma, Continental and Primedia Outdoor.

Hluma and Continental have been in a protracted legal dispute with BCM following a tender initiated in March 2011 for the appointment of a “sole” supplier.

In its initial tender invitation, BCM said the closing date was May 3 2011 but in a national print advertisement, the closing date was given as May 6.

Both companies submitted their tender documents after May 3 but before May 6.

BCM later withdrew the tender but Hluma successfully approached the high court for an order setting aside the withdrawal and forcing the metro to finalise the tender.

BCM then announced in August 2012 that Continental’s tender bid had been unsuccessful and, two weeks later, announced Hluma had been awarded a three-year contract for billboard advertising.

In October 2012, the high court issued a further order, interdicting BCM from appointing Hluma in terms of the tender process, pending a formal review of BCM’s tender process.

Judge Yusef Ebrahim said the inconsistency in the published closing dates for the tender meant “the entire tender process was flawed”.

He found it was unlawful to award the tender to Hluma and that BCM should start the tender process again.

Neither BCM nor Hluma could explain how the metro continued its relationship with Hluma in apparent contravention of the high court order and BCM’s supply chain management policy.

Lawyers for Continental said this week the interdict was still in place but did not respond when asked if they would initiate any proceedings against BCM or Hluma. —rayh@dispatch.co.za


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