Corruption alleged in military medical contract

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The Afrikaans daily, Beeld, reports a medical equipment provider that tendered radiological machinery to the South African Military Health Service is alleging “planned corruption” in the eventual awarding of the contract. In the process, the paper says, the medics paid R28 million for part of the equipment when the same could have been acquired for at least R7.8 million less.

Tecmed Africa, which did not win one of the contracts in a radiology project to replace dated medical scanners, X-Ray machines and mammogram devices in the country’s three military hospitals and some other military sickbays, says it is seeking access to related tender adjudication documents in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, but despite months of trying has yet to see any.

CE Werner Begere told Beeld he believed there may have been a “fiddle” with the tender specifications. These required bidders to have ISO 9001-accreditation. His company is the only one of the three companies asked to tender that has this accreditation, but no contracts were awarded to Tecmed. The contracts were awarded to the other two companies. The tender documents also required bidders to use the exchange rate of February 2 this year to determine prices. The SAMHS acquisition division reportedly confirmed this. Yet, he was later told that one reason Tecmed lost was that its costing was tied to the exchange rate.

Begere said the three companies were invited to visit the military hospitals in Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein late last year. In January they were given the “green light” to tender. The CE told Beeld that despite letters to the Department of Defence and the SAMHS since March he has still received no answer as to why Tecmed’s bids failed. The military reportedly has every month asked for an extension to providing the documents.

Beeld adds that the DoD has remained mum on the matter despite two weeks of written and oral requests for comment. Begere is currently considering legal action.