EXCLUSIVE: Top council official in multi-million rand tender scandal

Africa News 24-7 Team
JOHANNESBURG- A top official at the small municipality of Lesedi in Heidelberg has been accused of flouting all supply chain regulations and the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) to manipulate a multi-million rand contract which was awarded without going out on tender.
Lesedi Municipality acting municipal manager, Gugu Thimane, is accused of being the mastermind behind the awarding of R50m security tender to security company Bravo Span 90cc, abusing in the process Section 32 of the Regulations under the Municipal Finance Management Act. In terms of the Act, the accounting officer of the municipality must first obtain consent from the Provincial Treasury before they finalize an agreement with a service provider. However, several highly-placed sources have told Africa News 24-7 that this was not done.
Earlier today, a group of demonstrators staged a protest outside Lesedi Municipality’s offices, demanding the removal of Thimane, who they accused of being corrupt. Members of Imbumba Business Association demonstrated at the municipality in protest against what they called “blatant abuse of Section 32” by Thimane. Imbumba spokesperson Thabo Mokoena said the organization received a complaint from several of its members about a security tender that was not advertised which was awarded to Bravo Span 90cc. “The municipality should have retained the previous contractor on a month-to basis while the contract was advertised. But this did not happen,” Mokoena said.
Sources say last year, Lesedi Municipality advertised the tender after which 20 companies submitted bids. “Many companies that submitted bids raised concerns about the tender document during the compulsory briefing session. However, the municipality could not announce the winning bid due to mistakes and the sub-standard tender document,” said the source.
He added that in terms of the MFMA, the municipality was supposed to re-advertise the tender. The source accused Thimane of taking the matter to council for condonement and application of Section 32. “Not only was the practice itself uncommon, but the municipal manager was, in essence, soliciting and involving council in supply chain management processes,” said the source who preferred to remain anonymous.
He added that the awarding of the contract to Bravo Span 90cc was irregular and flawed and accused Thimane of “self-interest”. He added that Thimane unilaterally awarded the contract to Bravo Span 90cc without involving supply chain committees and that she even barred the municipality’s chief financial officer from chairing bid adjudication committee meetings as required by the MFMA.
Asked if she had obtained consent from the provincial Treasury before they awarding the contract without tender to Bravo Span 90cc, Thimane insisted this was done. She, however, blamed the executive mayor Lerato Maloka, whom she accused of sacking an official from the provincial Treasury who was assisting Lesedi Municipality in this regard.
“The allegation that the appointment of Bravo Span 90cc was irregular, is a factual inaccuracy and devoid of any truth. The procedures and checks and balances provided for in this regulation were met to the latter. I had neither a personal interest nor did I derive any benefit in the awarding of the contract. It is also not correct to allege that I had any relationship with any of the directors of Bravo Span 90 cc,” said Thimane.
She added that she was a victim of “a smear campaign aimed at tarnishing my good name and integrity as a committed public servant”.
Africa News 24-7 asked executive mayor Lerato Maloka if she had endorsed the awarding of the contract without it going on the tender. She said there was no legal stipulation that requires the mayor to endorse the awarding of any contract by the accounting officer, “safe to say that the law requires the Executive Mayor to receive reports and ensure the accounting officer compliance with the MFMA and Its supply chain regulations in awarding any contracts”.
Maloka added: “Section 6(3) requires the accounting officer to submit within 10-days of the end of each quarter submit a report on the implementation of the supply chain management policy to the mayor of the municipality. To this end, no report was submitted to me as executive mayor by the accounting officer, which constituted a non-compliance with the supply chain management regulations.”
Maloka explained that in terms of Section 32(a) the accounting officer may procure goods and services for the municipality under a contract secured by another organ of the state but only if the contract has been secured by that organ of the state by means of competitive bidding process applicable to that organ of the state.
“To this end, owing to none disclosure, failure, and refusal by the accounting officer to submit reports to the executive mayor, compliance with section 32(a) cannot be established.”
Asked if she had sacked an official from the provincial Treasury who had been tasked with assisting Lesedi Municipality with compliance with Section 32 of supply chain regulations, Maloka said prior to the awarding of contract to Bravo CC 90 cc Span, Thimane tabled a report for the extension of a report which was “fraught with irregularities and none compliance, which reports was never also discussed or submitted to the executive prior to it being tabled before the Municipal Council”.
Maloka said she then brought to the attention of council the irregularities related to the process proposed by Thimane. “The accounting officer on her own volition informed the council that she sought advice and assistance of the official of Provincial Treasury. The report was referred back for correction and submission of the said written official advice from the provincial treasury.
“As Executive Mayor, I deny having unilaterally removed an official of treasury with or without the knowledge of the accounting officer. The Factual position is as follows: The Request for Municipal Finance Hands-on Support (MFHSP) from the treasury was a request made by the Executive Mayor to the MEC Barbara Cressy in 2017.”
Added Maloka: “An MFHSP official was appointed for Lesedi in 2017 and his contract expired in 2018. The MEC then appointed a female (MFHSP) advisor to be placed in Lesedi on the basis of the terms of reference agreed upon. The (MFHSP) advisor appointment was endorsed by Executive Mayor and her induction to Lesedi was conducted with the Executive Mayor by the DDG Municipal Governance at Treasury. Her terms of reference were presented to her in the presence of the Executive Mayor and scope of work (assistance determined) by way of a power point presentation. Do’s and don’ts explained to her.”
Added Maloka: “When (MFHSP) advisor was appointed for Lesedi Municipality, Ms. Thimane was not in the employ of the Municipality and was not privy to her conditions of appointment and terms of reference and scope of advisor signed off by the Executive Mayor. Upon presentation of several irregular reports not limited to supply chain or procurement only to the Municipal Council by Ms. Thimane purportedly on the advice of Provincial Treasury which reports had to be withdrawn several times.”
“In exercising her fiduciary responsibility toward the council, the Executive Mayor wrote to the HOD of Provincial Treasury and MEC to seek clarity on such advice. The advisor was temporarily withdrawn to allow Gauteng Provincial Treasury to investigate. In that process the GPT subsequently informed the Executive Mayor that the said advisor had resigned,” said Maloka.