City probed over alleged nepotism
Public protector’s office investigating
THE City of Cape Town is being investigated for alleged nepotism as well as tender development irregularities.
The Office of the Public Protector has confirmed it is investigating the allegations against the city’s Water and Sanitation Department.
In the 2016/17 financial year, more than R35 million was paid to consultants despite the fact that a needs assessment for the tender was initiated only this July.
A senior official is at the centre of an investigation into maladministration, wasteful, fruitless and irregular expenditure regarding the tender. The official’s identity is known to Weekend Argus.
The probe comes as the city grapples with a severe water shortage after receiving disaster relief aid from the national government.
Cleo Mosana, spokesperson for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office, confirmed an investigation was in progress and that it was too early to say how long it would take to complete.
The probe would also focus on allegations that certain people in the Water and Sanitation Department had been hired at a cost of over R1.4m per year without meeting the benchmark requirements of National Qualifications Framework 6 and that they allegedly had no “extensive relevant managerial experience”.
It was alleged that the city was paying the consultants to do the work that was supposed to be done by the official.
The City is being probed for alleged irregularities regarding the tender for the consultants itself, the scope of which included the implementation of a infrastructure-reliability engineering centre for the city.
It is alleged the Water and Sanitation Department had its own reliability engineering section whose mandate was the same as that of the consultants and therefore a perception was created that it was “under-resourced”.
It was claimed that the internal structure had staff who were qualified and experienced, but that since the appointment of the consultants theyhad been sidelined.
Despite their charging the city exorbitant fees on a monthly basis and that mayoral committee member for Informal Settlements, Water and Energy Xanthea Limberg said in a statement that the consultants had been hired on an “as and when required” basis, it has been alleged that from February 2015 to date, they had used the city’s IT infrastructure, prime office space, telephones and stationery.
The definition of the tender was also being probed as it was defined as a term tender, which allowed flexibility in terms of the contract value.
The relationship between the consultants and certain officials in the Water and Sanitation Department was also being investigated.
It is alleged that relatives of one of the managers were linked to the consulting company and a relative of one was employed in the department.
The City of Cape Town’s Priya Reddy said it was aware of the allegations and an internal investigation had been launched. She said she would be able to comment only once the probe was concluded.
Reddy said the probe focused on “adherence” to the tender award, allegations against certain individuals with regard to relationships and “the performance against the tender”.
Reddy said the city was, however, not aware of the public protector’s probe.
ANC chief whip in the City of Cape Town metro, Xolani Sotashe, said while he welcomed the investigation, it should be extended to other “acts of corruption”.
“We had raised these concerns at our council debates but these were brushed aside. There is a lot going on and we need to hold the city accountable for clean governance. If it claims to be the working for everyone, then it must show how it delivered value to ordinary ratepayers,” Sotashe added.