South Africa’s Home Affairs and EOH set for arbitration over $27M biometrics contract
Counter claims between the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed EOH tech group continue over a R400 million (US$27.1 million) contract for an Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS). The contract was sourced by the DHA five years ago and it is still to go live. Now the two parties are expected to enter arbitration, reports South Africa’s ITWeb.
A binding decision is expected in three months.
This is the ABIS system intended to link an individual to all state institutions and private sector entities with a unique identifier. DHA is seeking reimbursement of some of the monies paid to EOH and vice versa, reports ITWeb.
This is not the only legal issue for the DHA and EOH. NEC Africa is taking them both to court to have a multimillion dollar biometrics contract with Idemia set aside. At the time EOH won the ABIS bid, it had a subcontractor agreement with Idemia.
The French firm was then appointed as EOH’s replacement on 31 March 2021, by which point the DHA had already paid EOH R224 million ($15.1 million). A new R191 million deal was made with Idemia to complete the project by October 2021, which has not happened although Idemia has told the court that the project will be completed. NEC Africa was one of the five original bidders for the contract and claims the agreement between the DHA and EHO is unconstitutional.
Forensic auditing of EOH and State Information Technology Agency senior staff allegedly shows an unlawful scheme to ensure EOH won the contract, reports ITWeb.