Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba this morning denied by accepting “free services” from a company owned by his wife, he set himself up for an alleged conflict of interests scandal.
Instead, Mashaba accused the Sowetan reporter who wrote the story of “harassing” him and said he went outside the City’s database of preferred suppliers to prove to his officials that “they were wrong about in-sourcing”.
Speaking to Eusebius McKaizer on 702, he denied allegations that by awarding the service of financial modelling to a company owned by his wife, he was in breach of the principle of conflict of interest. He also denied that by having access to the City’s information, the company stood a good chance of future business with the City despite not having charged for its services in the first place.
“The ANC thinks that they can use some of our journalists. I have taken this matter up with the Sowetan. On Sunday I was with my family and he harassed me for five hours. He sent me an SMS and asked me if my wife is involved in institutional review. He starts with the institutional review tender and he said my wife has a share in the company that got a tender. After the family meeting, I called him back and tried to explain.
“I gave him a solution to make him comfortable as a professional journalist. I said let’s go to a high court judge; you bring your source from the ANC and you make an oath. You can then investigate the matter because the implications of lying under oath are massive. I gave him until 17H00 to say when we can be signing and bring the source from the ANC. He says I will come back to you,” Mashaba told McKaiser.
Mashaba disclosed that his primary motivation for seeking assistance from his business associates was driven by a need to “prove” officials wrong. He said they advised him that the City could not afford in-sourcing: “[I did this] after rejecting a report from officials because I could see they were talking nonsense. In a mayoral committee I said if you don’t want to do this for me I will get a company to do this work and I won’t pay for it.”
Mashaba corroborated information provided to The Citizen by informants that one of the red flags about the financial modelling advice Mashaba sought from his business associate Akhter Alli was that Alli had no experience in local government finance management. They also questioned why Mashaba failed to publicly communicate the request for free advice so companies with relevant experience in this field could also get a shot at this opportunity.
“Akhter [Alli] works for Lephatsi [Financial Services] but he did this work in his personal capacity. Lephatsi doesn’t do business with the city of Joburg and has no interest in doing business with the city. I have worked with Akhter for 10 years,” Mashaba said.
When it was pointed out to Mashaba that other companies would have appreciated the opportunity to offer the same services, and that the knowledge they obtained in the process could be used to secure business with the City, Mashaba blamed the ANC. He said they were bitter because he was cancelling the security services that would affect the party coffers, saying he didn’t understand how the City paid R16 000 for each security guard but the guards themselves only earned R4 000.
A procurement specialist who previously worked in the city believes this is a clear sign that Mashaba doesn’t listen to information he doesn’t like from officials and service providers. He has previously been accused of shuffling legal advisers whose advice doesn’t support his intention to “purge”. The specialist, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated that both the Constitution and the PFMA require “all procurement must be open transparent.”
The chief whip of the ANC, the official opposition in the city, Jolidee Matongo, said Mashaba “must be taken to task for using the services of his friends” without publicly inviting other interested businesses. Mashaba dismissed this suggestion and told Matongo that the ANC was part of the “R18 billion” corruption that he had uncovered and informed him the next contracts he would be cancelling that were linked to the ANC were those pertaining to cleaning services.