The two media specialists, hired by Johannesburg-based company Mohlaleng Media to work in ex-mayor Danny Jordaan’s office for five months, said they welcomed any investigation into irregular, waste or unnecessary expenditure in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
The two, who were named in a report by The Herald earlier this week as having been paid R771 552 to beef up the city’s communications unit, said they were hired to “render media and communications support” to Jordaan’s office.
The report, on Wednesday, also detailed how the municipality lifted the cap on what was initially a R10-million tender given to Mohlaleng Media over a three-year period to an unlimited cap.
They had spent about R20.8-million halfway through their three-year contract.
The newspaper report added that Pokwana and Pascoe submitted time-sheets to Mohlaleng for attending meetings, including some held at the ANC’s regional offices, Florence Matomela House, as well as fundraisers for the party.
Pokwana and Pascoe said: “As part of the conventions of serving in the executive mayor’s political office there was absolutely nothing wrong or illegal accompanying or attending ANC meetings as the city was until recently led by the ANC”.
The newspaper report prompted Bay mayor Athol Trollip to ask acting city manager Johann Mettler to freeze the city’s contract with Mohlaleng for further investigation.
“I was disturbed to learn that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality had spent in excess of R21 million on this contract, some of which was allegedly used to remunerate political appointments under the former administration.
“This bears all the hallmarks of an irregular contract,” Trollip said in a statement.
Pokwana and Pascoe said they were “disturbed” by Trollip’s “priggish arrogance”.
“[He’s] propping baseless statement devoid of investigation findings and would like to implore him not to make sensational statements until the matter has been finalised by the investigators which he needs to appoint soonest.
“It would be a travesty of justice if our good names are being used to sure up support of the fragile political alliances and bolster public sentiment in the bay.
“We hold no brief for Mohlaleng Media and believe that they need to account on how “they spent R20.8-million, although the contract was initially capped at R10-million” as reported in the media,” they said.