Plot to discredit company exposed
MBABANE – An alleged plot by some officials in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to discredit a company in line for a government tender has been exposed.
Our investigations found that the officials in the Buildings Department intended to make AM Tree Felling Contractors (PTY) Ltd look incapable of felling, cutting and handling the disposal of trees on government property, which was the nature of the tender. The work was to be done at private and Cabinet offices where there were 24 trees. There were also 11 trees at Pholinjane Flats and at Selection Park plot number 1891 and 1892 where there were three and two trees respectively. There was another plot adjacent to Swaziland Council of Churches in Manzini.
AM Tree Felling Contractors was among eight companies that vied for this tender advertised on May 21 this year, and they were allegedly the cheapest of the bunch, charging government only E187 583.75.
Other companies charged from half a million Emalangeni to over E1 million. The officials allegedly wanted a certain company to have increased chances of winning the tender so they could allegedly get some kickbacks. However, AM Tree Felling was in the way with their low fees, which would have made government most likely to choose them because of the current financial crisis.
Their plan looked set to succeed as they had already drafted a letter discrediting AM Tree Felling, but Abraham Dlamini, the company director caught wind of this information and blew the whistle with the Minister of Public Works and Transport Ntuthuko Dlamini. Abraham, in an interview, said he learnt that there was collusion between the company that wanted the tender and the ministry officials.
"The officials made an appointment with the Parks Management Department in the Municipal Council of Mbabane. They wanted them to draft a letter putting my company in bad light and destroy chances of winning the tender. The Council was approached because my company had done works for them for years and they were one of my referees," alleged Abraham. However, after failing to persuade the Parks Department to draft such a letter, the officials allegedly sought to do it themselves.
"I confronted the officials myself and they told me my prices were too low, but I asked why were they concerned about what I charged. The answer was not very clear, save to say they too had been sent by their superiors," he alleged.
Abraham alleged that they were reluctant to show him the letter that was drafted about his company. He then approached the minister, who when interviewed last week Friday by this newspaper, confirmed the matter.
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