Department of Defence reinstates duo accused of tender irregularities

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The Department of Defence on Friday afternoon announced that it had reinstated an officer and an official placed on special leave in May following allegations of tender irregularities.
The department`s head of communication, Siphiwe Dlamini says in a statement that Peter Lebelo and Colonel Abel Skosana resumed their duties on 24 November.
 
“Mr Lebelo and Colonel Skosana were placed on special leave following an internal investigation around suspected irregularities in the Supply Chain Management Division of the DoD,” Dlamini said.
 
“An investigation by an external forensic audit company was conducted and found no grounds for any actions to be taken against Mr Lebelo and Colonel Skosana”.
 
The Afrikaans daily Beeld reported on 19 November that Lebelo was placed on compulsory leave and Skosana was suspended after the department began investigating a “so-called verification tender” worth R50 million to consolidate all inventories onto a central computer system.  
 
Lebelo is the DoD`s chief director of procurement management and Skosana the officer commanding the central procurement centre, located in the Defence Materiel Division of the Defence Secretariat.   
 
The paper`s military correspondent Erika Gibson reported that the contract has been on a slow track since 2002. 
 
She adds that the investigation would also probe the award of a tender to fly ballot papers to the Democratic Republic of Congo two years ago as well as a tender for field ration packs.
 
The Pretoria High Court has previously found that there was “undue” influence in the award of the ration tender.
 
Some of the allegations levelled included that some tenders were accepted late and that a company that drafted the tender specification was allowed to bid. 
 
Beeld says neither the DoD Inspector General nor the government Auditor General could find any irregularity.
 
The late Secretary of Defence January Masilela then called in an independent (meaning private sector) investigative firm but it appears they could also not find anything amiss.
 
The paper says Masilela shortly before his death in August offered Lebelo a post at Armscor, the DoD equipment acquisition agency “in exchange for” his previous post.
 
Lebelo apparently refused as he first wanted to clear his name, his lawyer, Rudi Kuhn, told the paper.   
 
Beeld also reports that the investigative firm has itself tendered for the verification contract and is on a shortlist of three.