The Durban High Court has ordered agriculture and land affairs minister Lulama Xingwana to reinstate a R12 million contract for the management of the Fourth World Congress of Rural Women to a Durban public relations company.
Judge Faizel Moola made the ruling after Punithavathy Pillay’s Metrolink Public Relations made an urgent application complaining Xingwana had withdrawn the contract after awarding it to her company in December claiming she had misrepresented information about her company and her previous disadvantaged status in the tender document. The judge said in review of the documents submitted, Pillay had disclosed all relevant facts and had not misrepresented herself. The contract is for the entire management of the event. The congress, which will be staged in Africa for the first time, is set to be attended by more than 2 500 delegates from 87 countries. In court papers Pillay claimed she had already begun working on the event and had spent more than R150 000 when the contract was cancelled. In his judgment he said it was common cause that had submitted a written bid in the name of Public and that the eventual contract had been signed by Pillay on behalf of Sumetro Travel trading as Metrolink Relations. In January the department wrote claiming it had done a background search and found that did not exist. In response to these allegations, she said her company was incorporated into Sumetro Travel, owned by her husband. But the department went on to withdraw the contract insisting she had misrepresented herself. – Fidelis Zvomuya