Amathole 'R600m' toilet deal revived

FLUSHED PLANS: Concrete slabs that were part of the initial Amathole project, lie unused in Madliki village earlier this year Picture: ALAN EASON
FLUSHED PLANS: Concrete slabs that were part of the initial Amathole project, lie unused in Madliki village earlier this year Picture: ALAN EASON
The controversial Amathole District Municipality’s multimillion-rand toilet project is back on the cards and has been taken over by the national department of water and sanitation.

The initial project – which was funded through a R631- million loan from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) – was scrapped in June last year after the ADM terminated their contract with the politically-connected implementing agents, Siyenza Group.

The Saturday Dispatch can today exclusively reveal that in a bid to save the beleaguered project, Minister for Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane has issued a directive to the Amatola Water Board to plan the implementation and completion of the project, which was left incomplete.

The cancellation of the contract came after a Saturday Dispatch investigation exposed the fact that Siyenza Group had been appointed without the municipality following proper supply chain management regulations.

This prompted a probe by the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (Misa), which found that Siyenza Group had submitted fraudulent documents to the SA Revenue Services (SARS).

The contract was also never advertised, despite its magnitude. This paper also reported on how the first batch of the toilets – built before the contract was cancelled – were collapsing within weeks of being installed.

Siyenza is owned by Butterworth-born businessman Bongani Mpeluza and has strong links to a group of politically connected individuals including ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe ’s wife Nolwandle Mantashe and son Buyambo. Others linked to the company were President Jacob Zuma’s son-in-law Lonwabo Sambudla and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s son, Boitumelo Itholeng.

Mlimandlela Ndamase, spokesman for the department of water and sanitation, confirmed to the Saturday Dispatch that they had commenced discussions with the municipality regarding the project, with a view of identifying areas of cooperation and to get the project completed.

“The minister has issued a directive to the Amatola Water Board to explore an implementation approach and plan towards completing the project,” Ndamase said.

Asked whether the Amatola Water Board had capacity to oversee a sanitation project, as they usually deal with water projects, Ndamase said: “Amatola Water Board enjoys the status of an ‘implementing agent’, who by directive from the minister, implements projects on water and sanitation on behalf of the department,” he said.

ADM spokesman Siyabulela Makunga said: “Although the DBSA did eventually approve an extension of its loan facility to the ADM at the beginning of this year, the ADM was in the process of identifying alternative funding models, rather than to incur further debt through an extension of loan.

“In this regard, it has been in discussion with the Department of Water and Sanitation for funding from the department to be made available for the project,” he said.

The Dispatch can also reveal that of the 66700 toilets that were supposed to be built across ADM’s local municipalities, only 30409 toilets were done by Siyenza.

Responding to this, Makunga said it was critical that the project was completed as soon as possible, in helping to restore dignity to the people of the area. Even though the municipality initially said it would seek to recoup funds paid to Siyenza Group, this week ADM indicated that it would not pursue the matter further, as Siyenza was paid for services already provided.

The Siyenza contract is also being investigated by the office of the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, after the EFF in the province and DA leader, Mmusi Maimane laid a complaint last year. — siphem@dispatch.co.za

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