The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality wants to sever ties with a company that is charging inflated prices to deliver newspapers for senior managers and mayoral committee councillors. The company, Mazofin (Pty) Ltd, was awarded a tender to supply 23 copies of The Herald on weekdays and 23 copies of Weekend Post every Saturday, but charged the city seven times the subscription cost.
The municipality has been forking out R22 678 every month for the newspapers.
Had it subscribed for the newspapers directly from Times Media Group, the cost would have been about R3 105 monthly.
Mazofin owner Kolekile Jafta declined to comment yesterday.
Details of the contract to “circulate” newspapers emerged this week after the metro’s new political head of corporate services, councillor Dean Biddulph, asked questions about how much the municipality was paying for newspaper subscriptions.
Mazofin was awarded the tender for the supply and delivery of the papers in April. The newspapers are for all mayoral committee members and executive directors as well as the offices of the speaker, chief whip and city manager.
Biddulph wants the contract with Mazofin to be scrutinised by the legal services department to see if the metro can get out of it.
“It’s just scandalous. They’re charging [close to] 1 000% more than what the newspapers cost,” he said.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are more contracts such as this that we are still going to uncover.”
The metro’s mayoral committee member in charge of budget and treasury, councillor Retief Odendaal, said the contract should never have been awarded.
“I’ve already said they [officials] must cancel the contract,” Odendaal said.
“This is gross, gross abuse. I can’t sit with a paper on my desk that costs the ratepayer that much money. “If we think it’s necessary to have the 23 newspapers, why can’t we have an arrangement with The Herald?” he said.
The Herald and Weekend Post subscription supervisor Kenneth McWire said Mazofin was not on their list of subscribers.
He said there was no record of bulk subscriptions to supply 23 newspapers to any city resident.
“We have discovered that a man purchases 23 copies of The Herald at the Walmer Boulevard intersection every morning at R6.20 a paper.”
McWire said until the end of last year, Times Media had delivered 24 newspaper subscriptions to the municipality’s offices every day.
He said four different groups of people had inquired about the costs of bulk subscriptions last year.
“They wanted to know if there were discounts for bulk subscriptions or if all the copies were delivered to one address,” he said.
“When I asked what it was all about, they said it was an empowerment project by the government.”