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DA demands answers: How did an unqualified bidder secure major Infrastructure project?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application on Wednesday, asking PetroSA to provide the party with a record of the decision that led to the awarding of a tender for the rebuilding of critical gas infrastructure to a bidder who did not meet specifications.

According to the DA, the chosen bidder, Lawrence Mulaudzi and his company Equator Holdings, did not have proven financial resources to implement the project or the requisite technical knowledge and experience. Equator Holdings had also been flagged for improper conduct at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

Reports indicate that Equator Holdings did not provide evidence that they had the R22 billion needed to finance the deal, which was a prerequisite to win the contract. Despite this, PetroSA awarded them the tender to refurbish PetroSA’s gas infrastructure.

Equator Holdings has no verifiable track record in the gas industry, yet they were awarded the tender, bypassing the requirement that the successful bidder must be an established player in the industry.

DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Kevin Mileham, stated that PetroSA went to extreme lengths to either exempt Mulaudzi’s Equator Holdings from the tender requirements or took a unilateral decision to give the tender to the company at any cost.

The conduct of the PetroSA executives raises questions about how the tender was awarded when there were obvious inconsistencies showing that Equator Holdings did not qualify.

“It is unclear whether any due diligence was conducted on Mulaudzi’s background before awarding his company the tender.

A simple Google search would have revealed that Mulaudzi was flagged several times in the report on corruption and malfeasance at the PIC by the Mpati Commission,” said Mileham.

Mileham said based on the evidence at hand, it is safe to conclude that PetroSA may have made a predetermined decision to award the tender to Mulaudzi’s Equator Holdings, despite overwhelming evidence that the bidder did not qualify.

He said Mulaudzi is now using the tender for speculative purposes to try and secure funding and a cut for himself from potential investors. There are reports that he has been courting the Russians for this purpose.

Mileham said PetroSA has been involved in various scandals, starting with its controversial decision to partner with Russia’s Gazprom bank despite the risk of secondary sanctions involved.

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