Minister implicated in R350-million tender dispute

International software company Micro Focus prematurely dropped its South African partner, Afrocentric, awarding the $25-million (about R366 million) contract it had with the company to X Telecoms instead.

According to a report in the Sunday Times, Micro Focus told the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) that this move was made at the suggestion of deputy communications minister Pinky Kekana.

This has resulted in the department of communications investigating the tender dispute and the deputy minister’s role in recommending that Micro Focus end its agreement with Afrocentric and switch to X Telecoms.

Micro Focus initially signed a two-year contract appointing Afrocentric as the fulfilment agent for the framework agreement between itself and Sita in November 2018, but eight months later this deal was reportedly terminated without cause and X Telecoms was selected as the new partner.

A framework agreement is an agreement between two companies to establish the price and terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period.

Sita told the Sunday Times that no reasons were provided by Micro Focus for the termination of the Afrocentric contract, and Afrocentric owner Luvo Gwiliza has asked Sita and the communications minister to intervene in the tender dispute.

X Telecoms owner Khethi Nkosi argued that he started the contract negotiation process with Micro Focus months ago and has had a relationship with the company for years, adding that the deputy communications minister had no influence over the decision.

According to the report, Kekana was a speaker at a Micro Focus conference in August 2019.

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Minister implicated in R350-million tender dispute