ANC NEC member, Pule Mabe, owns the media company contracted by the Passenger Rail Company of South Africa (Prasa) to publish a transport magazine in a partnership described by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela as “bizarre”. Glenda Nevill reports.
In her report on PRASA, titled ‘Derailed”, Madonsela says allegations that KG Media was “improperly” appointed to produce Hambanathi Magazine, in a deal worth over R33 million over a three year period, was “substantiated”. The company is owned by controversial former ANCYL treasurer Mabe who is a member of the ANC’s powerful national executive committee and of the ANC’s sub-committee on media and communications.
“PRASA entered into a contract (referred by it as a partnership) with KG Media providing for the publication and distribution of PRASA information to its commuters and stakeholders, through Kwela Express, which used to be a corporate magazine of Metrorail (subsidiary of PRASA, using the name Hambanathi when Mr Pule Mabe, the then owner of Kwela Express, was employed there),” Madonsela’s report says.
She said the contract was from 1 April 2012 to 1 April 2015 and that KG Media received an amount of R465 669.75 per month, which translates to R5 588 000.37 per annum and a total contract amount of R16 764 111.00.
But, she said, this contract was made “without a competitive and transparent bid process” compounded by the fact that sacked CEO, Lucky Montana, extended the contract in March 2015 for a further three years for the amount of R16 764 111.00 “despite a forewarning through a notice issued in terms of section 7(9) of the Public Protector Act, that the arrangement was likely to be determined to be unlawful”.
“Effectively, PRASA is renting space on Hambanathi/Kwela for the price of about R465 669.75 a month,” the report said.
“Considering the fact that PRASA created Hambanathi/Kwela and simply failed to register it as a patent, I find the arrangement with Mr Mabe’s company, KG Media, rather bizzare.” Madonsela said.
She said the appointment of KG Media, without a competitive process, “did not comply with requirements for single sourcing or any of the permissible procurement processes prescribed in the PRASA SCM Policy as production of a corporate newsletter is not an exclusive skills area or product for KG Media and paragraph 11.3.3 of the PRASA SCM Policy prohibits unsolicited bids”.
This meant that PRASA’s appointment and extension of the contracts with KG Media totalling an amount of R33 528 222.00 is an “unlawful, a flagrant contravention of PRASA’s own SCM Policy, Treasury Regulations, the PFMA and section 217 of the Constitution and constitutes maladministration and improper conduct”.
Montana’s extension of the contract amounted to maladministration and an act of bad faith, she said, and displayed a “disconcerting disregard for the rule of law”.
The Mail & Guardian, in its annual Top 200 Young South Africans, described Mabe in 2013 as a “politician-cum businessman” who was determined to change the lives of many South Africans. “Despite his busy schedule he has managed to build a successful business empire in the media industry. At 32, he owns a publishing company called KG media, which publishes Kwela Express, a monthly transport newspaper. Through Kwela Express Mabe has managed to create both a print and an electronic platform for the transport industry. He also launched a programme on SABC2 focusing on transportation issues throughout the country. Three years ago Mabe established the Kedibone Mabe Trust to fund deserving students from his hometown, Phalaborwa, to study journalism, marketing and transport engineering. He also established the Kwela Media Institute in Johannesburg, aimed at training young people in journalism, design, media and sales”.
In a story published in 2009, KG Media was described as a rising BEE media company and the Hambanathi magazine as a “public transport trailblazer”.
KG Media’s website, www.kgmedia.co.za is not operational. Clicking on the address delivers the message below. The Media Online could not source images of the magazine online nor details of the editor and issues published.
IMAGE: Oupa Segalwe from the Public Protector’s office / Twitter.
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