Trollip cracks the whip over city tenders

Mayor vows to clamp down on ‘seriously serial bad practices’ regarding contracts

Every municipal contract which seeks to duplicate the work of staff who are already paid by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to do the job will be thoroughly scrutinised, Mayor Athol Trollip says. This is an attempt to clamp down on irregularities and what Trollip termed “seriously serial bad practices”.

Cracking the whip on senior managers of the municipality yesterday, Trollip demanded better planning and communication about crises in the municipality, saying he had been kept in the dark.

He cited an alleged “go-slow” by the municipality’s refuse collection workers as an example, saying despite being told that the strike was over, the city was dirtier than ever.

Trollip was speaking at the city’s first open mayoral committee meeting.

The meetings were previously closed to the public.

About the alleged go-slow, Trollip said: “When we have a crisis, I expect daily reports about progress and what is happening to deal with that crisis.

“I’m in the dark. I don’t know if our staff are back at work. I don’t know why we are delivering 10% of the refuse to the tip. I don’t know why they are on a go-slow. I’m not informed.

“All I do know is that I get phoned all day and all night by residents who are complaining that their refuse was not collected.”

SA Municipal Workers Union regional secretary Mqondisi Nodongwe said the workers were not on a go-slow.

“Throughout the years they have not been taking lunch and tea. Now they are taking their [90 minutes] and it is affecting refuse collection.”

Meanwhile, Trollip said the new DA-led coalition government refused to be passengers who would simply rubber-stamp recommendations and plans devised by the city’s administration.

He said he had, over the past month, asked acting city boss Johann Mettler to explain how a number of tenders had been awarded, particularly those whose duties would be to duplicate the core functions of some departments.

“From many of those questions that I asked – and I considered the responses to those questions – I’m convinced that we are not going to get an unqualified audit [opinion from the auditorgeneral],” he said.

“I’ve identified a number of contracts that we will be scrutinising very, very carefully and, if necessary, we will get external forensic support."

“There are some contracts that are current or coming to an end that deserve our attention because there are some really bad practices."

“One is Mohlaleng [Media]. “That contract is especially bad because it is outsourcing of a department, or a sub-directorate, when there are people in positions to do that work,” Trollip said.

Mohlaleng was awarded a threeyear contract last year for media and communication services. The city lifted the cap on the initial R10-million tender given to the company to an unlimited cap.

The municipality has since suspended the contract pending a full investigation of the deal.

Trollip said: “What are the people doing who are paid to do their job if [it] is being outsourced?” Trollip was also furious that a Heritage Day event to unveil a Heroes Acre wall of remembrance at the Zwide cemetery on Saturday was postponed because the ANC objected to it."

“Effectively, that event was stonewalled and held hostage by a political party that felt it did not suit its agenda,” he said.

“And we as a city did not have one official event to pay our respects and recognise Heritage Day. It’s unacceptable operations.”

ANC deputy caucus leader Bicks Ndoni said that the event could not continue without consultation with the provincial structures of the ANC as it was a high-profile political event.

He said it had also clashed with the funeral of former Bay councillor Kholisile Frans. – Additional reporting by Melitta Ngalonkulu.