Tshwane must answer for giving R700-million network tender to company that allegedly can’t do the job

South Africa’s High Court has ordered the City of Tshwane to present documents showing why it awarded a R585 million IT contract to Brilliant Telecommunications when it doesn’t seem capable of completing the work, News24 reports.

The contract’s requirements specified that the winning bidder must have accreditation from Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei.

According to Altron — a losing bidder and the company that had managed the city’s telecommunication networks exclusively for 18 years — the City of Tshwane had invested heavily in Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei network equipment.

However, Brilliant Telecommunications didn’t have the necessary accreditation from these equipment vendors.

Furthermore, Brilliant Telecommunications approached Altron to subcontract the work in April 2023.

Altron refused, and Brilliant Telecommunications enlisted the help of CBX Tech, which holds the necessary accreditation.

According to the report, Judge Irene de Vos highlighted that the City of Tshwane awarded Brilliant Telecommunications a contract valued at R585 million despite the company’s bid being only R74 million.

She also pointed out that although Brilliant Telecommunications is registered with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, its registration number didn’t match that of the bidder.

De Vos added that investigating the registration number reveals it belongs to a different company.

The Judge found in favour of Altron and ordered the City of Tshwane to provide all records of the tender and awarding process.

Brilliant Telecommunications chief executive Maanda Phalandwa told MyBroadband that the company immediately indicated it would appeal the High Court judgement.

“The ruling has been appealed. I suggest we wait for SCA judgment. The issue has been properly ventilated in our court papers. We don’t wish to get into the merits and demerits of the case as the matter is before the court,” he said.

“Our pricing is in line with the market rate and the issue of vendors is subject to court process thus, we are unable to comment on that issue.”

Phalandwa said the judgement has been suspended due to Brilliant Telecommunications’ appeal.

MyBroadband also asked Altron for comment, but it didn’t immediately answer our questions.

In July 2023, Altron filed court papers arguing that the contract awarded to Brilliant Telecommunications should be declared unlawful.

The contract is to manage the City of Tshwane’s telecommunication networks, including Internet connectivity and other data services, which it needs to provide services to residents and ratepayers.

Altron’s court papers alleged that Brilliant Telecommunications couldn’t do the work it was contracted for and should never have been awarded the tender.

Before the contract was awarded to Brilliant Telecommunications, Altron had managed the city’s telecommunication networks exclusively for 18 years.

The municipality split the contract in November 2022, awarding the bid to supply equipment and hardware to Altron, while Brilliant Telecommunications was awarded the tender to provide software support and maintenance.

In his answering affidavit, Phalandwa described Altron’s legal proceedings as the actions of a sore loser.

He said his company had submitted a superior bid, meaning Altron lost on pricing.

According to Phalandwa, Altron bid an “exorbitant amount” of over R736 million, while Brilliant Telecommunications bid around R585 million.

Phalandwa said there had been no complaints about their work, and he denied the allegation that they don’t have the skills or means to do the job.

However, he reportedly did not respond to the allegation that they did not have the necessary letters of accreditation.

Now read: Biggest telecoms companies in South Africa

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Tshwane must answer for giving R700-million network tender to company that allegedly can’t do the job