Another family member of President Jacob Zuma is caught-up in an South African Police Service (SAPS) payment storm after he was paid about R1 million as a transport consultant for a job that could have been done for free by the police supply chain management.
The Sunday Independent reported yesterday that the SAPS outsourced the procurement of transport for the Police Day event held in Soweto on January 28 to Amandla Emicabango Investments (AEI), a company owned by Mandlakapheli Eric Gcaba, for R859 560. On top of the payment AEI was to charge a 10 percent administrative handling fee on all transport vehicles procured and used for the event. The job was not advertised or contested by other firms.
Gcaba is a nephew of Zuma, and close to the wealthy Mpisane family, who have hosted national police commissioner General Bheki Cele at their parties. There are conflicting reports about the nature of Cele’s relationship with Gcaba, but his office has denied any rumour of a friendship. All Gcaba’s company needed to do was identify a bus company to do the job – something police officials say would not have taken longer than a few days, if more than a day.
However, some of the buses organised by Gcaba’s AEI did not arrive. This forced SAPS fleet managers to authorise the use of cars ordinarily used in the fight against crime, to be used to ferry thousands to a police party – one that has left many questions unanswered, the paper said. These revelations come after Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa told Parliament recently he had ordered a probe into the spending for the event. He claimed he had no answers to questions posed by the DA’s spokeswoman on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard. She had asked for a breakdown of how many companies had been contracted, what services they provided and at what cost.
The answers to Kohler Barnard’s questions were, however, available and were leaked by someone in Mthethwa’s office. Documents show Mthethwa had had this information by as early as April, over a month after the DA first sought answers on the expenditure. Mthethwa’s spokesman Zweli Mnisi said the minister instituted an investigation because of some of the unexplained expenses.
AEI project manager, Danford Cloete said: “Amandla Emicabango Investments is a private company and, as such, is under no obligation to provide any of its confidential trade information for publication.” Cloete said there was no special relationship between Gcaba, Cele and Mpisane and their appointment was through the supply chain management.
About R30 million was set aside for Police Day, according to a document drafted by Colonel Evan E Corbett, events management: human resources management and legal services. A source in the SAPS said the expenditure increased dramatically during the event. A company owned by Fatu Cele and Mthokozisi Desmond Cele, Rudisha Consulting, also benefited. Rudisha was responsible for the project management of Police Day and pocketed R457 140.
Cele’s spokesperson Nonkululeko Mbatha pointed out that this was a case of identical surnames of people who were unrelated. “…Cele, is not in any way related to the directors/owners of the service provider that was awarded the responsibility of managing the Police Day project or any other service provider who worked on this event for that matter”.
Another source said it was apparent that the Gcaba payment was “another money for jam” sort of deal, the Sunday Independent said. This was an indirect reference to the ArcelorMittal deal in terms of which Zuma’s son Duduzane received almost R1 billion in empowerment shares along with businessman Sandile Zungu, who later famously characterised the deal as “money for jam”.
“It does not make sense why we (the SAPS) gave them this job when our supply chain management could have done it for free. Given that they are paid close on a million, where was the deal advertised? With whom did they compete to get the job? Nonkululeko Mbatha just introduced this company as having been contracted – but what process was followed?” asked the source.
The procurement of AEI’s services was approved by the SAPS through Treasury Regulations 16A6.4, which allow officials not to follow tender regulations. It is not clear why those in charge of procurement treated the organising of Police Day as an emergency given that it is an annual event. Mbatha did not respond to questions on what made the Police Day event an emergency. Mbatha said, however, that the SAPS had received a request from the local organising committee for the Police Day event for specialist assistance with the management and co-ordination of the transport from various provinces and divisions to the stadium where the event was to be held.
“The appointed service provider submitted a detailed logistics and traffic management plan that met the requirements of the local organising committee. This plan made provision for rail and road transportation,” Mbatha said. Mbatha said there was only one bus operator who had not performed fully to the SAPS’s expectation and the necessary steps had been taken to deal with the breach of contract.