According to Times Live, a damning legal opinion has recommended that a controversial fisheries tender awarded by the Department of Agriculture be withdrawn.
After the R800-million tender to combat illegal fishing along South Africa's coastline was awarded to Sekunjalo Holdings, it has been claimed that the department ignored a conflict of interest arising from the fact that one of Sekunjalo's subsidiaries - Premier Fishing - has rights to fish in South African waters.
Politically connected businessman Iqbal Surve is Sekunjalo chairman and also director of Premier Fishing. Criticism were levelled at the department's choice to award the contract to a company with interests in fishing - a R2-billion industry - arguing that the department's decision makes Sekunjalo both referee and player. The preferred bidder was also announced despite the failure by the department to conclude a due diligence process. Outgoing service provider Smit Amandla Marine is challenging in court the department's decision to award the contract to Sekunjalo, asking the court to review - and set aside - that decision.
The department's own legal advisers, Times Live reports, said the court is likely to find in favour of Smit Amandla Marine - the company who lost the bid. "The prospects of successfully defending the review are not good and in our view the review is likely to succeed on the basis that the scoring was irrational and cannot be rationally and fairly correlated with the information which [was] served before the bid evaluation committee," legal advisors said, adding "we are of the view, [...] that there is substantial risk that the award cannot be justified rationally." Accordingly, the lawyers argue that the contract awarded to Sekunjalo should be set aside by the department as a result of the deficiencies in the bid evaluation process.
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