Cipro tender under attack ‑ again

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The Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro) R153 million enterprise content management tender has come under fire again.

This time, from the Democratic Alliance (DA), which is alleging the tender was rigged. Cipro, however, says it has addressed all allegations and the project will go ahead.

The DA maintains, in a statement, that it is in possession of a sworn affidavit that contains allegations of tender rigging against Michael Twum-Darko, CIO of Cipro.

Cipro CEO Keith Sendwe and Valor IT chairman Josias Molele have both previously lashed out against allegations that procedures were not followed in the bid, and both stated that standard procedure was followed.

Valor IT was awarded the tender to implement an end-to-end enterprise content management (ECM) solution at Cipro. The awarding of the 24-month deal to Valor IT was met with suspicion, and Cipro's decision was questioned.

The DA's statements follow calls by Mantra Consulting earlier this year for the voluntary suspension of the R153 million ECM bid. Mantra, which worked on the bid with Valor IT, claimed Valor IT has failed to meet its contractual obligations and has since taken legal action.

The DA says the awarding of the tender to Valor IT has drawn the attention of the Auditor-General and the SAPS, and alleges a file has been handed to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision to prosecute.

“In the affidavit, Abe Mbulawa alleges that Twum-Darko and the CEO of Cipro, Keith Sendwe, met with him before the tender went out. He was then advised to partner with a closed corporation, by the name of Valor IT. He was also given the confidential business case, as well as the amount budgeted for the enterprise management project. The tender was eventually granted to Valor IT, to the value of R152.7 million. This is despite the fact that the tender amount for the second shortlisted company was only R60 million,” says the DA.

Marching on

While the DA says urgent action needs to be taken and has asked the minister of trade and industry, Rob Davis, to initiate an independent investigation - Sendwe says the calls by Mbulawa will not impact on the project.

“We will continue undeterred with our organisational transformation programme, which is in the best interests of our clients and in keeping with the broader national agenda. The awarding of the Cipro information technology tender to Valor IT early this year has been addressed by the organisation, and a number of questions were addressed via the office of the director-general of trade and industry,” says Sendwe.

Sendwe says allegations in a signed affidavit by Mbulawa, that he was advised to partner with Valor IT, during a meeting with Twum-Darko and himself, was untrue. He adds that Mbulawa was not provided with a business case and additional material by Twum-Darko. The business case was a public document, which went through a number of reviews and was part of the evaluation process.

The current court case between Mantra Consulting and Valor IT is a matter between the two companies and would not affect the project, says Sendwe. Mantra Consulting is claiming that Valor IT failed to pay more than R10 million in consultancy fees.

Cipro states that allegations and an affidavit by Mbulawa are currently with the Auditor-General for further investigation and it is waiting for the final report.

Audra Mahlong
senior journalist

Audra Mahlong is an ICT journalist with a focus on exposing government shenanigans. She’s been described as fearless, but she’s much braver than that.

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