Eyebrows raised over Kekana’s role in R300m tender

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Communications and digital technologies deputy minister Pinky Kekana.
Communications and digital technologies deputy minister Pinky Kekana.

Deputy communications and digital technologies minister Pinky Kekana's name has been dragged into a dispute over a R300 million IT tender.

This is according to a report in the Sunday Times.

The report says Micro Focus, a multinational company that provides software licences and consulting services to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), has told the agency that Kekana advised it which local company to appoint as its local partner.

Micro Focus, which has headquarters in the UK and the US, appointed the new partner, X Telecoms, after prematurely ending its relationship with another local company, Afrocentric, in July without providing any reasons, Sunday Times reports.

It adds that insiders in the department of communications are now asking why the contract was taken away from Afrocentric and what Kekana's motives were in recommending X Telecoms.

The report notes that Afrocentric Projects and Services was appointed in November last year as one of the fulfilment agents for the framework agreement between Micro Focus and SITA, which is estimated to be worth $25 million (about R364 million).

However, Afrocentric's two-year contract was terminated "without cause" eight months later.

After the contract was cancelled, Sunday Times adds, Micro Focus said it had asked Kekana for guidance on which company should replace Afrocentric.

In a letter from Micro Focus to SITA communicating Afrocentric's termination, which the Sunday Times has seen, the company said “we have been in contact with the deputy minister of telecommunications [sic] in order to provide guidance in the sourcing and procuring of a suitable, additional SMME [small, medium and micro enterprise] fulfilment agent”.

Late last month, Kekana was a speaker at a Micro Focus conference. It is not clear in what capacity she was addressing the event.

Neither Kekana nor Micro Focus responded to questions sent two weeks ago by e-mail, or to follow-up calls and WhatsApp messages.

The Sunday Times understands that Micro Focus forwarded the name of X Telecoms, owned by Johannesburg business person Khethi Nkosi, as Afrocentric's preferred replacement.

The paper says Nkosi confirmed his company had been approached by Micro Focus but denied that Kekana had anything to do with it.

SITA told the Sunday Times the agency did not know why Afrocentric's contract had been cancelled.

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