DA demands an investigation into Johannesburg smart meter tender

Mmusi Maimane, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) caucus leader for Johannesburg has called for an investigation into the R1.25 billion (US$141 million) smart meter tender awarded to the Edison Corporation.

Smart metering was implemented by the South African government in an attempt to alleviate the country’s electric supply problem. Smart meters record the consumption of electric power and communicates digital data back to the utility firm for billing and monitoring purposes.

A detailed report by the Mail & Guardian outlined irregularities in the awarding of the smart meter tender in Johannesburg. According to information obtained by the Mail & Guardian, the R1.25 billion contract was “manipulated to favour Vivian Reddy” who is one of the key benefactors of President Jacob Zuma.

Procurers of the meters, the city of Johannesburg and its utility, City Power, denied irregularities in the awarding of the tender. However, no evidence had been found indicating Reddy or the Edison corporation were guilty of foul play.

Maimane said: “There are a number of reported irregularities in the tender process that are of particular concern. First, the value of the tender was reportedly increased from R800 million (US$90 million) to R1.25 billion after it was awarded to Edison. City Power has not provided an explanation for this increase.”

“Second, the tender was reportedly initially supposed to be split between two bidders. Later it was decided that Edison would receive the entire tender on its own. City Power has not provided a credible explanation for this change.

“Third, the Mail & Guardian alleges that Edison did not receive the highest score on either the first or second round of bid scoring, but that Edison was chosen only after the scores were adjusted on the instruction of City Power managing director Sicelo Xulu,” said Maimane.

Maimane added that it is “concerning” Vivian Reddy – Zuma’s friend and a benefactor of the African National Congress (ANC) – owns the Edison Corporation. “Edison was reportedly also not the most cost-effective bid, nor did the company have prior experience in this field.”

“These accusations cast serious doubt over the legitimacy and integrity of the processes followed in the awarding of this tender,” said Maimane who then called on the Public Protector to investigate and answer questions regarding the tender awarding process.

Maimane will be asking these questions in the Johannesburg Municipality Public Accounts Committee, but he believed a full Public Protector investigation is necessary due to the serious allegations made.

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