Amid emerging reports about taxpayers millions being lost in irregular spendings, the eThekwini Municipality is making plans to spend up to R22million for its annual senior citizen’s programme.
Though the city’s government is yet to disclose how it plans to fork out the huge sum for the year-end party for pensioners, there are growing speculations that the money would be cut from various departments in the city.
The programme which is held every year close to the festive season is aimed at treating senior citizens to a special day on which they receive food hampers, a meal for the day and entertainment.
About 66 000 senior eThekwini citizens, across the city’s 110 wards, benefit from last year’s programme and the whistle-blower who presented information pertaining the municipal’s processes for the programme, also claimed that the awarding of tenders for the 2017 event was being delayed intentionally.
The whistle-blower also alleged that a last-minute award would be made to a preferred company, thereby leaving other bidders powerless to appeal the adjudication process.
“In the past, the tender document made provisions for more than one service provider to be awarded. However it has since been amended, the tender document is drafted in a way that only one company could provide all the relevant services, which benefited a particular company,” the whistle-blower alleged.
The source also alleged that in 2014 and 2015 there were irregular expenditures totalling more than R2m linked to the hiring of marquees in 74 wards.
It is alleged that those wards did not require the use of marquees because parties were being hosted in community halls, which bore no cost to the municipality.
The whistle-blower also alleged that service providers supplied and used lower quality products yet they billed the city for expensive brand items.
“They did not supply regular brands which the senior citizens were accustomed to receiving in the past. Last year, the chickens that were supplied were cheap imports from Brazil and the rice was also an unpopular brand,” alleged the whistle-blower.
This claim comes amid further criticism of the eThekwini municipality being soaked in corruption and a massive money laundering among many other cases.
The city’s government is also accused of making a commitment to build an R4.8-million monument of the arrival of indentured labourers in 2010 which it is yet to fulfil.
Concerns are being raised on the government’s delay in erecting the monument because it is believed that the erection of the monument is not just an initiative by the Indian community but one that is meant to be an inclusive project embracing all South Africans – one that would serve to bring people from different communities together and unify them.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance Chief Whip, Sharon Hoosen, submitted questions to Nzuza last week regarding the allegations. She said it was not the first time that such allegations had been made about the handling of the programme.
According to Hoosen, a report compiled in 20014 by former city manager Sbu Sithole pertaining to allegations of possible collusion between officials, councillors and suppliers, had been drafted, but it had never been tabled before the city’s executive committee.
“We have requested for this report on numerous occasions but it was never presented. Had that report surfaced, the city could have taken corrective measures to avoid further fraud and corruption,” said Hoosen.
eThekwini City spokeswoman, Tozi Mthethwa, denied the allegations but confirmed that the suppliers and contractors had not been appointed for this year’s programme.
She said it had been proposed that the event be held at the end of November and that a public process has been followed in line with our supply chain management (SCM) processes.
“The tender process closed three weeks ago and is currently being evaluated,” said Mthethwa.
About tender documents being manipulated and the use of specific brands, Mthethwa claimed that the city’s actions were in line with their SCM policy and that it is to ensure that a wider market is reached and also to ensure competitiveness.