Pretoria – Tshwane acting city manager Mmaseabata Mutlaneng has come under fire from the DA, which wants her to take the fall for a dodgy Covid-19 catering contract and quit her position.
The tender was irregularly awarded to at least 34 companies without purchase orders to feed homeless people accommodated at 24 temporary shelters constructed to minimise the spread of the virus during the lockdown.
Both the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks have since instituted a probe into claims of irregularities linked to the multimillion-rand contract.
The DA has accused Mutlaneng of having flouted tender prescripts, saying the buck stopped with her as the accounting officer.
Calls for her sacking were made after it emerged last week that the City did not issue purchase orders to engage the catering companies in line with supply chain management norms. DA mayoral candidate Randall Williams has pointed fingers at Mutlaneng, saying she had failed to take the appropriate action that her job required.
“She should therefore be urgently removed from her post. This is a total governance failure,” Williams said.
He expressed shock at the news that a service provider recently submitted invoices worth nearly R20million for serving the homeless.
Williams accused the City administrators of having “haphazardly used multiple service providers during the lockdown, effectively abandoning legislative supply chain processes which require formal procurement reports”.
He also took aim at head administrator Mpho Nawa, saying he should have full oversight over the procurement processes.
The head of supply chain management has been suspended for tender irregularity, but the DA said the move was Nawa’s attempt to shirk responsibility.
Williams said: “As due process was not followed in their appointments, all of the funds that these service providers may receive will be deemed as irregular in audit findings, which will be made against the ANC administrators.”
The City and service providers have been embroiled in a dispute over payments for catering services, with the metro questioning the exorbitant financial claims on invoices. The City has also alleged that service providers colluded with officials to obtain catering contracts, but these claims were dismissed by the contractors.
City spokesperson Selby Bokaba said when they became aware conducted a preliminary probe which led to the suspension of the group head: community and social development services and instituted a forensic investigation.
He said the City also approached the SIU to assist. The current acting city manager wasn’t acting at the of the procurement. We also supported the investigation while being sympathetic to the plight of the service providers.”
He said Mutlaneng was committed to seeing justice being done, rot uncovered and those responsible accounting for their actions. “The executive as well as top management were clearly kept in the dark about this, despite asking pertinent and salient questions.
“Had it not been for the service providers coming forward to claim their monies, the City would probably not have known about this.”
He added not a single cent had been paid to anyone, and payment would only be made to service providers whose invoices had been validated.
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