South African News

Ramaphosa linked to a tender scandal

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is once again implicated in a tender for pals scandal.

While South Africans are fixated on the so-called Government of National Unity (GNU) Cabinet appointment, the government has closed a three-year deal with telecoms giant MTN which will see about 257 municipalities digitised through the implementation of smart electricity and water technology across the country.

It is reported that MTN Business has been awarded a contact to roll out smart electricity and water technology. Ramaphosa is said to be in the forefront of this deal.

Municipalities believe this new tender is designed to take power from the municipalities and hand it to big business.

Also Read: Zimbabwean farmer buys one cow for R1.8m from Ramaphosa

It is still not clear how much MTN would pocket from the deal.

The contract is said to be designed to ‘enhance the digitisation – through the implementation of smart electricity and water technology – across South Africa’s 257 municipalities. The RT29 transversal contract, awarded by National Treasury, will see MTN supply, install, manage and maintain smart metering programmes across the country. The project is said to be ‘severely imposed’ on municipalities.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya has denied that Ramaphosa was linked to the MTN deal. “Other than the obvious legal and logical fact that the president cannot and does not have any operational involvement at MTN, such a process will not work under the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA),” Magwenya explained.

Even though, the presidents spokesperson acknowledged that Ramaphosa did have interest in telecoms, he was no longer part of it. “Historically, he was involved in the industry, which is a well-known public fact.”

However, Ramaphosa’s family, through Shanduka, had interests in the telecoms sector in South Africa and Nigeria. It also held a 32.7% interest in a cellphone tower building operation in Nigeria Helios Towers and 12.5% in Seacom, which constructs undersea cables.

Furthermore, He was also a chairperson of MTN Group, the majority owner of the Nigerian operation. He’s business entity Shanduka also purchased shares in MTN Nigeria.

According to the telecoms giant, this would bring “value and impact” to municipalities as well as unlocking the benefits of a modern connected life for households and businesses.

“The integration of smart electricity and water technology across these municipalities will further solidify financial sustainability for municipalities by eliminating bypasses and ghost vending to ensure transparent and financially viable utility management.”

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) referred all questions to the Treasury, which did not respond by deadline.

The Publication’s attempts to get a comment from MTN business CEO Charles Molapisi were unsuccessful, however, Company Executive Kholekile Ndamase said he would hand over the enquiry to relevant authorities.

“I’ll refer this to my colleagues in Corporate Affairs and they will respond accordingly,” Ndamase said.

The Star

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