Dear Corruption Watch
There are many reports in the news about government tenders going to friends and family where thousands and even millions of rands are allocated and services are not delivered.
Who should take the rap for this, members of the tender adjudication committee, or the company awarded and violating the terms of its contract? And what is the rap for each party? Can the government get its money back? Can there be criminal charges? Can someone go to jail?
Depending on the circumstances, all of the consequences you mention might result from this kind of tender maladministration.
Imagine the following set of facts: The Smallville Municipality advertises a tender and Mr Connected, a powerful official working for the municipality, chairs the bid adjudication committee. Despite receiving bids from established companies with good black economic empowerment credentials at competitive prices, the bid adjudication committee awards the tender to DodgyDeal (Pty) Ltd, a newly-formed company owned by Mrs Connected. Full payment is made but DodgyDeal does not have the capacity to perform, and no work takes place.
Mr and Mrs Connected are likely guilty of corruption and if so, they may be prosecuted and convicted. The minimum sentence is 15 years in jail.
Mrs Connected and DodgyDeal can be placed on a blacklist for failure to perform in terms of a contract with an organ of state. No person on the blacklist may contract with any organ of state for the duration of their blacklisting.
Mr Connected has breached the code of conduct for municipal staff members which prohibits him from getting any personal gain from his position, and requires him to disclose any benefits he or his spouse have obtained as a result of any contract with the municipality.
He has also breached the code of conduct for public servants. Public servants are required to recuse themselves from any decision-making process which may result in improper personal gain. He should be disciplined and probably dismissed.
The municipal manager may be liable for unauthorised expenditure. Depending on his role in these facts, the municipality may be entitled, or even required, to recover the money from him personally.
The other members of the bid adjudication committee may not be criminally liable for failing to ensure a legal tender process, but they may be investigated and disciplined depending on their precise role in the matter.
Take a stand and report corruption. This article originally appeared in The Sunday Business Times on 25 March 2012.