Altron has won a long-running legal battle over the validity of a broadband tender for the City of Tshwane, with the constitutional court upholding a previous judgment of the supreme court of appeal.
South Africa’s highest court this week affirmed the supreme court’s previous ruling, to the effect that the broadband network contract awarded to Thobela Telecoms — a special purpose vehicle in which Altron Nexus is a minority shareholder — is valid and binding. There is now no prospect of further appeals by Tshwane.
In an order dated 19 May, the constitutional court refused Tshwane’s application for condonation and dismissed the application for leave to appeal with costs.
“We are pleased with the outcome of the constitutional court’s order and we see this judgment as a victory for the people of Tshwane and all companies who obey the rule of the law as well as the funders involved in this project,” said Altron group executive for legal services Hansie Schutte in a statement.
“The matter relates to a dispute between Thobela Telecoms and City of Tshwane over the city’s allegations that the tender award process was irregular due to internal processes and procedures at the city of Tshwane not being correctly followed. The project was later put on hold by the city, pending the outcome of the litigation proceedings.”
The long-running dispute centred on Tshwane’s allegations that the tender award process was unlawful due to internal processes and procedures not being correctly followed.
The supreme court, in the earlier judgment, found that Tshwane had sought to review its own decisions, because it had not complied with its own rules and had “misinterpreted certain statutory prescripts and maladministered its own tender process in respect of the appointment of a service provider for a municipal broadband network project”.
Under the terms of the contract, Thobela would build, operate and — at the end of 18 years — transfer a 1 500km fibre-optic broadband network, which would provide Internet access to underserviced areas in Tshwane.
“We see this judgment as a victory for companies who obey the rule of the law and are ethical and transparent. It is also a win for marginalised people, who were set to initially benefit from broadband,” Altron CEO Mteto Nyati said at the time of the supreme court judgment. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media