MTN's head office in Johannesburg. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
MTN's head office in Johannesburg. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Nine months after losing a R325m deal  to Vodacom, MTN has still not handed over the   contract to its rival.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub told Business Day on Monday it was “a bit frustrating” that MTN had not complied with orders from the courts and the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) that it transfers  all Transnet numbers and relinquishes the contract.

MTN, which has provided these mobile voice and data services to Transnet for years, has refused to port the Transnet numbers on the premise that both the first and second versions of the tender process were irregular and skewed in its rival’s favour.

MTN said in court documents earlier in 2018  that it wanted Transnet’s contract with Vodacom, which was signed in February, to be set aside as the tender process had been "marred with irregularities".

However, the high court dismissed the case in June.

But Jacqui O’Sullivan, corporate affairs executive at MTN SA, said the operator had petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal.

A date for the hearing was yet to be set, she said.

Vodacom said in its initial court papers that it was losing revenue of “hundreds of thousands" of rand a day  as a result of MTN’s noncompliance.

The initial tender was launched in late 2015, but after Vodacom was identified as the preferred bidder, the process was called off in early 2017. This was after an independent report on behalf of Transnet, by forensic investigators Ligwa Advisory Services, recommended that the state-owned company redo the tender as it had discovered "anomalies" and "irregularities".

Transnet told Vodacom and MTN in March 2017 it was calling off the tender as neither party’s submission kept to its guidelines. Soon after it relaunched the bidding process, MTN was disqualified as it had written "N/A" (not applicable) in the tender documents next to the devices it could not supply instead of writing "R0" (zero rand).