Mpumalanga Speaker contracts and tenders must be investigated

By Anthony Benadie MPL, Spokesperson on Premier’s Office:

Serious allegations of contract rigging levelled against Mpumalanga Legislature Speaker Thandi Shongwe must be investigated. On Friday, 15 May the DA lodged an official complaint with the Office of the Premier against Speaker Shongwe and requested that the Integrity Unit located within the Office of the Premier should investigate the allegations.

The DA received anonymous correspondence that suggests that the Speaker used her position to award contracts worth thousands of rands to family members for the catering and décor of the 2015 State of the Province Address (SOPA).

The information alleges that the catering contract was given to her sister in law Ethel Ruth Shongwe, who is the owner of Nutting House in Mbombela municipality. The venue is also commonly used by the Legislature, provincial departments and the ANC to host functions.

Ethel Shongwe is no stranger to the Mpumalanga government as she was the former chairperson of the Mpumalanga provincial tender board. She was also named in the recent provincial department of Education’s nutritional feeding scheme tender irregularities.

The SOPA décor contract, apparently worth almost half a million rand, was allegedly given to a company called Front Row Investments located in Barberton which was only established in 2014. This company was allegedly used as a front to ensure that the Speaker’s half-sister, Sakhile Sibiya gets her share of the pie.

No tender was advertised for any job relating to SOPA 2015 indicating that Speaker Thandi Shongwe may have used her position to influence the awarding of the contract.

Although Sakhile does not own the company, she too resides in Barberton and has close ties to Ruth Shongwe.

The DA has obtained photos that show that the décor used for both Nutting House functions and SOPA appear to be the same.

Click here for photos and documents.

The Speaker is central to the functioning of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and must be beyond reproach; as such any allegation implying that the Speaker may have acted in an improper manner, must be investigated. The matter is now in the hands of Premier David Mabuza to launch an investigation and we trust that he will give this matter the attention it deserves.