Tshwane’s Sudden Investigation into Rooiwal Plant is Disingenuous

The City of Tshwane’s sudden announcement of a forensic investigation into the award of the tender into the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant is good news but it is disingenuous at best.

On Thursday morning, the day of an ActionSA sponsored motion to Council calling for a forensic investigation into this issue, the City of Tshwane demonstrated its first real concern about the patently illegal award of the tender to a joint venture to two companies – both owned by Edwin Sodi.

As a then DA Ward Councillor since 2011, I have raised the issues of the tender award for the Rooiwal Plant, on behalf of my community since its award in 2019 to Mayor Randall Williams. On all occasions it was brushed aside with disinterest while residents in my wards and neighbouring communities continue to live with water unsafe for human or animal consumption.

This is why I find the announcement by the Mayor, through his MMC of Finance, to be hollow.

On multiple occasions I brought to the following facts about the tender award to the attention of Mayor Williams:

  1. Neither of the companies owned by Sodi in the joint venture awarded were registered as suppliers on the City of Tshwane’s database – a basic requirement of the City’s policies.
  2. Neither of the companies in the joint venture had any prior experience in this kind of infrastructure project but it was selected over others that specialised in this kind of work.
  3. The joint venture did not have the required funds for site establishment. The City of Tshwane paid R1 million upfront to float the costs of site establishment in contravention of City policies and the MFMA.
  4. The joint venture, in contravention of the supply chain policies of the City of Tshwane, had to be ceded R71 million upfront because it lacked the resources for the initial capital outlay.
  5. When the bid adjudication committee cancelled the award of the tender, in light of the above, the City of Tshwane did not oppose the legal proceedings of the joint venture – which is how its appointment was made legal.

This is why I have worked with ActionSA to bring this motion to Council on Thursday requiring an independent forensic investigation to be initiated and the outcomes reported to Council within 90 days. Inexplicably, the motion was denied the opportunity to serve before all Councillors and was referred to the Executive Mayor with the exact requirements of ActionSA’s motion. What demonstrated the insincerity of this poorly choreographed effort was a press statement issued by the MMC of Finance announcing the investigation that morning – clearly with the knowledge of what would transpire later in Council.

I am pleased that, finally, this matter will be investigated – after all it required me to resign as a Councillor and stand for ActionSA for it to be treated seriously. It, however, remains difficult to accept the bona fides of Mayor Randall Williams who has ignored my pleas on this issue for 3 years only to leap into action when facing a by-election in this ward and a motion sponsored by ActionSA.

My resignation from the DA was precisely because it was impossible to achieve change for the residents of my ward when my former party led the coalition government. My decision has been vindicated already when, with one motion, ActionSA has forced the hand of the City of Tshwane to investigate this matter and be transparent in the process.

The residents of my ward and surrounding communities have suffered for nearly 20 years from the human, agricultural and ecological disaster unfolding from the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant spewing raw sewerage into the Apies River and surround water table. They have been let down by consecutive governments who have failed these communities.

The very least that these residents deserve is for justice to be done to those who have abused their suffering to profit from an illegal tender process that has set back the resolution of this issue.