South Africa : Corruption in Building Industry Unfolds

Recent corruption busting events in the South African Built Environment parvenu community have left many professionals wondering who will be next. After years of institutionalised criminality in the State's tendering process and public works allocations programmes we are witnessing a flurry of prosecutions which seem to indicate that some sectors of the South African government are intent on stamping out corruption at medium level.

Those who have been following the circus in Cape Town will understand that there is a political need to absolve the country's President Zuma from wrong doing at Nkandla before the State of the Nation address in February next year. This is a pressing need for a number of reasons.

South Africans that could hear past the “pay back the money” cacophony would have learned that President Zuma claims that he was not aware of the cost escalations of the project – he was not directly involved in it, as he had a Public Works appointed principal agent in place as well as a barrage of consultants to take care of the project.

This is completely normal practice. Most particularly for the president of a country such as South Africa. Why would a president worry about the details of the adds and alts to his home when he had State appointed professionals to do that? 

Think about it; President Zuma is busy on a global scale cutting trillion dollar deals with multi nationals from all corners of the world. He is Corporation South Africa's CEO.  He is connected from here to China and beyond. He is worth a vast fortune in ways we can't even begin to understand.

And he is accused of unduly benefiting of US$10 million or so – in additions and alterations? It doesn't make much sense in the greater scheme of things.

On the very same day that Parliament descended into chaos and the riot police were brought in to remove an EFF MP, all parties voted unanimously to pass a Grand Inga 3 Dam Treaty – an international deal involving the usual suspects that is likely to make the Zuma Dynasty billions in profits for decades to come.  (The MP that was dragged out kicking and screaming was pointing this out when she was removed.)

Nobody thought to point out in Parliament that Grand Inga 1 and 2 are abysmal failures. Nobody thought to ask why Grand Inga 3 would be any different.  Our honourable parliamentarians were too busy fighting over ten million dollars to worry about a US$80 billion catastrophe.

Back at the farm, what President Zuma is clearly saying is that if there were irregularities at Nkandla then the professionals  responsible for the project must be made to answer for those irregularities. Plain and simple. ( Of course, this explanation has no political value and has proven unpopular in the opposition circus.)

First in the firing line was the architect and principal agent. Public Works officials were identified as suspects in wrongdoing shortly after and proceedings were reportedly instituted.

Thandeka Nene, one of the principal Nkandla contracting parties, made the news in December 2013 by getting herself arrested in the Seychelles and pleading guilty to attempted banking fraud. This December she got herself arrested in South Africa on eighteen counts of fraud and corruption, all unrelated to Nkandla but enough ballast to make the canary sing from now until Christmas.

What a song that will be.
(See footnote 1.)

Nkandlagate is showing a widening crack and all kinds of goodies are falling out of the woodwork, the latest one being LTE Consulting's oddly timed hot potato; the R200 Million tender that they were awarded unlawfully and which they don't want any more.
(See footnote 2.)

In what must rate as a first, the directors of the consulting company claim that their CEO obtained a Human Settlements tender illegally and that they want it cancelled. The company was awarded the tender in February 2014 and has already been paid R40 million for the infrastructure project which it subcontracted to a third party – a construction company established in 2010 called Khato Civils.

Whilst all this is going on 2,689 stands in Sweetwaters’ Kanana Park Extension 6 will not get water and sewer reticulation. 

Suffer the people - again.

Footnote 1 : In a tragic turn of events Ms Thandeka Nene's mother was murdered at her home in KZN. Local media reports that Ms Nene claims that the violent murder may have been a "hit" to silence her.
Footnote 2In a further development the Chairman of LTE Consulting appears to have been forced to resign following an armed robbery at his home during which time he had a gun put to his head and threatened. A source said Pillay had made it clear that “he believed the robbery was meant to scare him as he has been asking too many questions and made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with the project”.

Staff Writer, Architect Africa News Network