Red flag must be raised over new Legislature catering contractor

Edmund van Vuuren (MPL)

Whip and member of the legislature internal arrangements committee

A red flag must be raised over the Bhisho legislature’s new catering contract with Viwe Vasi’s company “Above and Beyond”.  Ms Vazi is among the accused who are alleged to have benefitted from funds that had been paid by Buffalo City Metro for Mandela-memorial services.

It is astonishing that a service provider can be appointed despite them facing charges of money laundering and fraud.   This is compounded by the chequered history that the Vazi-family has had with state institutions and this legislature.

Her mother, Phumla Vazi, was fired as Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Health in 2011.    DStv’s Carte Blanche said in an insert dated 13 November 2011:  “Duplicate payments, including this one for nearly a million rand, simply went unnoticed. In total more than R308-million has been siphoned off. Among the heads that rolled is the Chief Financial Officer, Phumla Vazi who, from 2007, built up a supply network of companies owned by her husband, daughter, and sister – to which the department paid nearly R7-million.”

As a member of the legislature’s Internal Arrangements Committee, I was very surprised to read about the appointment of “Above and Beyond” in the media and about its ownership.

I wrote to the deputy speaker, Bulelwa Tunyiswa, on 2 October to clarify rumours about the appointment of a new catering service provider.  She confirmed that “Above and Beyond” had been appointed, but she failed to respond to my request for the names of the directors of the company.  Details of the contractor are not reflected in any minutes of the committee meetings.

One cannot help being more than slightly suspicious about the awarding of this contract considering the above information and sequence of events.  There have also been allegations that when questions were raised about this company, “Above and Beyond”, there was a caginess that was disguised through confidentiality limitations.

The DA will do all in its power to ensure that all relevant details are made available and whether correct supply chain procedures were followed.

Problems with the current catering contract with PMZ Motel are not entirely of their own doing.  The poor management by the legislature, starting with the invasion by staff of the MPL’s dining room and the subsequent mass disappearance of cutlery and crockery from the dining room, has exacerbated the current sub-standard service.

By appointing a new contractor, the legislature is simply treating the symptom, instead of the cause.