TELECOMS

Court move to halt Telkom South Africa tender

Maredi Telecom and Broadcasting has filed an urgent court application in the Pretoria High Court in a bid to stop Telkom awarding a multimillion-rand tender to Ericsson South Africa and Telsaf Data. Telkom’s tender to the two companies has been shrouded in controversy and claims of corruption since it was announced in December last year.

The row has called into question Telkom CEO Reuben September’s close business relationship with Ericsson’s senior management. Parties crying foul over the tender include the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), which has since called for a probe into alleged corruption. The union said it had evidence that senior directors at Telkom altered documents to influence the tender. Telkom has denied allegations of any wrongdoing.

In court papers, Maredi Telecomms and Broadcasting CEO Takashi Utsunomiya claims Telkom violated the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, which deals with fair awarding of contracts by entities with a significant government shareholding.

Utsunomiya said Telkom violated the Act because it acted capriciously and in bad faith and did not follow fair procedures. He said Ericsson did not comply with critical criteria as it twice failed physical tests in the tendering process performed in conjunction with a Telkom team led by technical manager Giel Laubscher.

But it is understood that Marius Mostert, Telkom’s group executive for network infrastructure provisioning, overruled Laubscher’s critical report about the equipment and said Ericsson SA should get another chance because its equipment had been damaged while in transit from Sweden.

Utsunomiya said the JSE-listed Telkom deliberately misrepresented the results of the technical testing that took place to ensure that the tender was not awarded to Maredi Telecomms. “We offered Telkom a technology that meets local and international standards, at very competitive commercial terms and within a model that advances black economic empowerment,” he said. “It is a matter of serious concern to us that we have not been given any reason why our bid was rejected.”

The tender for a point-to-point microwave system was awarded to Telsaf Data and Ericsson in a 60:40 split. The microwave serves as the back-haul system for cellphone base stations and Telkom’s broadband wireless access network and will help the company improve its capacity to provide broadband services.

Telkom spokesman Pynee Chetty said Maredi was unsuccessful because it achieved unsatisfactory scores in critical categories of the tender.

Business Times

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