The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini Municipality is in possession of municipal records showing that the city recently awarded 20 Durban Solid Waste (DSW) refuse collection tenders worth R144.8 million using the controversial Section 36 of the Supply Chain Management regulations in just 120 days.
In response to this, the DA has written to City Manager, Musa Mbhele, asking for clarity about the deviations. Section 36 (2) of the City’s SCM policy requires the accounting officer to document the reasons for any deviations and report them at the next council meeting. This has not been the case, raising further concerns regarding the decision to award such dubious tenders under Section 36.
Section 36 is a deviation from standard procurement methods that the city can use to purchase goods or services in times of emergency or when competitive procurement processes are unrealistic or impossible to follow. The procedure allows the municipality to select a company without soliciting other bidders.
Records show that the city awarded 20 tenders as an emergency procurement. Between October 2022 and January 2023, a total of R144.8 million in section 36 bids were issued for refuse collection, street cleaning, litter picking, and verge removal in eThekwini Municipality hostels, townships, and rural areas.
Tenders were awarded to at least 13 companies, with each getting between R20 million and R31 million. In one instance, a single company received three tenders, one in October for R12 million and two in January for R13.4 million, both under Section 36 of the procurement process.
This is an example of Section 36 abuse that is well documented in the Manase investigation, which showed that numerous contracts awarded through Section 36 of the SCM procedure were part of a plan to defraud the municipality and were deemed irregular. It follows a blueprint mastered by former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, and others who stand accused of circumventing certain SCM processes in an attempt to loot over R300 million in the DSW unit.
While councillors are not involved in the tender processes, it has never been more vital for the opposition to strengthen our oversight role as it is increasingly becoming clear that efforts to loot what is left of the city have been enhanced by those in power.
The DA will continue to fight for transparency, accountability, and efficient service delivery for residents of eThekwini.