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12 Jul 2019 00:00
(David Harrison/ M&G)
Gauteng local government minister Lebogang Maile is expecting a response from Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina on an alleged dodgy R1.9-billion chemical toilet tender today.
He is also moving to get answers from the Democratic Alliance-run City of Johannesburg on an alleged R1.26-billion fleet tender, which reportedly benefited the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Maile last week gave Masina seven days to respond on the contract, reported on by amaBhungane. Masina mounted a defence of the contract in a press conference on Wednesday, saying that the contract was signed before he took office in 2016.
He also said, however, that after careful examination he had found it was above board.
Maile told the Mail & Guardian that the law empowers him to scrutinise and investigate the conduct of municipalities if required, but he did not want to comment on what action he would take on the Ekurhuleni matter until he had seen the city’s submission to his office.
He added that it was not just Ekurhuleni contracts under scrutiny: he was also looking into issues concerning the Lesedi local municipality, as well as the City of Johannesburg’s fleet tender.
AmaBhungane reported that the city’s R1.26-billion tender was awarded to a “relative bit player” in the fleet scene, Afrirent, without a competitive tender, and that the company had links to the EFF, a key partner in a power-sharing deal with the DA.
The City of Johannesburg said the mayor’s office had not heard anything about questions related to tenders from Maile, but the request for answers could have been lodged with the city manager.
Meanwhile, Masina dismissed as untrue reports that the chemical toilet tender was dodgy.
He said there were 119 informal settlements in the city and research conducted showed that it was critical to provide decent ablution to these communities, since many people were using pit latrines that posed a health risk and could contaminate the underground water system.
He argued that the contract, signed two months before he took office in 2016, was legitimate.
He dismissed reports that he had lied to the Ekurhuleni council about the status of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report, which led to the suspension of chief operating officer Lesiba Mojapelo over contracts related to the award of a tender to a marketing and communication company, TS Records, as part of a World Cup Legacy Project.
Allegations of lying to the council are based on a report in the Business Day, which quoted sources who said that Masina told the council he was suspending the chief operating officer based on an “updated” SIU report he had received.
But Masina told journalists on Wednesday that there was only one SIU report.
The unit’s report was “inconclusive” on what action should be taken against Mojapelo.
The report said: “The SIU is in the process of compiling evidence for disciplinary proceedings to be instituted against Mr Mojapelo for his role in the appointment of TS Records by way of an unjustified deviation.”
Masina wrote to the SIU in December, asking for clarity on the matter.
The suspended chief operating officer’s disciplinary hearing kicked off this week.
Natasha Marrian is Mail & Guardian's politics editor. Read more from Natasha Marrian
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