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ANC takes more potshots at DA over Cape Town

ANC takes more potshots at DA over Cape Town
City of Cape Town councillors debate the 2019/20 budget at a special council meeting on 29 May 2019. (Photo: Tessa Knight)

The ANC caucus and the DA-led City of Cape Town have locked horns over findings related to irregular expenditure outlined in the auditor-general’s report.

When the auditor-general’s report was released in June 2019 for the 2017/2018 financial year, the results were bleak. Out of the 257 municipalities audited, only 18 got a clean audit, one of them being the City of Cape Town metro.

However, the auditor-general raised a few red flags, finding that in one case,when it came to procurement and contract management in the Cape Town metro, “bid specifications for a tender were drafted in a biased manner and did not allow all potential suppliers to offer their goods or services”.

This is what ANC councillor Noluthando Makasi referred to as “manifestations of corrupt tendencies in the City of Cape Town,” at a media briefing convened by the party on Monday, which was a week after the council sat for its meeting on 31 July.

ANC caucus leader Xolani Sotashe told reporters that it is “our responsibility to inform the public as we have been raising these issues to council”.

The auditor-general has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there’s been irregular expenditure,” said Makasi.

The auditor-general, Kimi Makwetu, also found that with regard to irregular expenditure in the 2017-2018  year, 51% of the City of Cape Town’s non-compliance was a result of not complying with legislation on contracts “and the remainder was non-compliance with other procurement process requirements”.

Makwetu found that “reasonable steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure amounting to R236-million”.

Other contracts relating to traffic contravention services were “extended three times without following the prescribed process, resulting in irregular expenditure of R65-million. The total value of the extensions represented 87% of the original contract value,” reported the auditor-general.

At the briefing, Sotashe also pointed out that the City of Cape Town underspent by R2-billion, which he said was “money that was supposed to be dealing with service delivery and informal settlements”.

Makasi said that it was concerning that Melissa Whitehead, the former transport commissioner, who was suspended last year, “is pocketing R5-million while sitting at home”.

Whitehead, alongside former mayoral committee member of transport and urban development, Brett Herron, was implicated in a Bowman’s investigation for misconduct regarding a contract from a Chinese manufacturer, BYD, for electric buses. The report recommended that Whitehead, Herron and former mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, be criminally charged.

Whitehead has given the City of Cape Town until 15 August to revoke the report that implicates her for misconduct, arguing that the report is biased and irregular. Herron, who is the secretary-general of De Lille’s GOOD party, is seeking legal advice to have the report rescinded as well.

It was alleged that De Lille and senior officials met BYD officials before they got the tender. Later in the year, council was notified that the electric buses couldn’t drive up the steep hills in the city.

Sotashe said the ANC would lodge a complaint with the public protector, as the party could “only rely on Chapter Nine institutions” to investigate these matters.

Responding to Daily Maverick by email, the mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato, said the ANC “have nothing new to say but recycled old stories that have already been addressed”.

The auditor-general gave the City of Cape Town an unqualified audit, something that municipalities run by the ANC are unable to achieve. The City of Cape Town is also regarded as the best run metro in the country by numerous independent bodies. The ANC are welcome to report anything they deem worth reporting but should perhaps focus on sorting out their own problems after their provincial leadership was disbanded this past week,” said Plato.

Since 2015, the City of Cape Town has received either unqualified opinions with no findings or unqualified opinions with emphasis of matter items.

An unqualified opinion with no finding means that: “The auditor-general can state without reservation that the financial statements of the municipality fairly represent the financial position of the municipality”. An unqualified opinion with emphasis of matter items means that the auditor-general “wants to bring something particular to the attention of the reader”.

Releasing the report, Makwetu said  that generally, South Africa’s audit outcomes “had regressed”. DM

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