These days it’s almost standard practice among those seeking to do business with state departments to pay bribes in order to win lucrative contracts. But there are those who stand up against this unwanted activity – such as businessman Fikile Bili from North West’s Ditsobotla local municipality. He blew the whistle on corrupt government employees who allegedly solicited a bribe from him in exchange for retaining a contract he had already secured.
For exposing corruption, we make Bili our hero of the week.
He owns a debt-collection company called Zandile Management Services that scooped a contract in August this year to collect outstanding service bills on the municipality’s behalf. Bili alleges that Ditsobotla’s chief financial officer, Leeto Dintwe, asked him for a bribe of R150 000 which he refused to pay.
Dintwe has since been suspended by the local government, after the story was published in the media. No stranger to controversy, Dintwe took up his top position at Ditsobotla after a previous suspension. As the financial officer for the North West public works department, it was alleged that he had been involved in the awarding of a R250-million irregular tender for a 50km stretch of road between Lichtenburg and Koster.
Despite the ruling party’s pledge to intensify the fight against corruption, Dintwe was still able to take up a top public office position while under investigation – this shows lenience on the matter rather than intolerance, and allowed Dintwe to continue his activities, to the detriment of the provncial department and those that it serves.
Bili has also laid a complaint of bribery and corruption against eight councillors – including speaker Pogisho Maitshotlo, ANC councillors Letlhogonolo Mothibedi, Vincent Dila and Molefe Morutse, and municipal manager Solomon Nnete. Speaking to City Press the businessman said that on 28 August a meeting took place at the Lichtenburg Golf Club, where the eight councillors asked him to pay them R250 000 – for this they would ensure that his invoices were paid and that he retained his contract. Bili recorded the conversation using his mobile phone, hidden in his jacket.
While most of the councillors have denied being at the meeting or asking for bribes, police spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko confirmed to City Press that a case had been opened and was being investigated.
Bili’s brave decision to stand up against corruption and take innovative action prove wrongdoing is an example of the active citizenship needed to combat corrupt practices that have become prevalent in all areas of business, private and public.