Another probe into Tshwane, GladAfrica tender drags on behind closed doors

Another probe into Tshwane, GladAfrica tender drags on behind closed doors

Tshwane City Manager Moeketsi Mosola during a press briefing at Tshwane House, 25 October 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Attempts to put the controversy to bed through an independent probe have not been finalised seven months after it began.

It is supposed to be the investigation that finally puts the GladAfrica tender controversy to bed, once and for all. But the probe, yet another investigation into the controversial project management contract between GladAfrica and the City of Tshwane, is still being finalised behind closed doors, nearly seven months after it began.

The findings of the probe, by independent forensic auditors, Gobodo Forensic Investigation and Accounting, are currently being handled confidentially by a small committee at the City.

A report is to be completed in the next three to four weeks, according to the City, and after that, its fate lies in the hands of the City council’s scheduling and logistics arrangements. It is not clear whether the findings of the latest investigation will be made public, or whether various “inputs” from stakeholders” will change what Gobodo’s findings were.

The City said it would take legal advice on “how the report is handled” once the process was completed.

Irregular expenditure

GladAfrica signed a large project management contract with the City of Tshwane in November 2017. However, a preliminary investigation by law firm Bowmans, internal legal opinions by City officials, an external legal opinion as well as the Auditor General found that the contract was unlawful.

The Auditor General flagged the contract as irregular expenditure. The unlawfulness of the contract stemmed from the incorrect application of Section 32 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, which was used to bring the firm on board.

The Hawks also launched an investigation into the awarding of the contract.

At this stage, apart from the procedural irregularities on the part of City officials, there are no substantive claims of corruption or other criminal acts by either GladAfrica or the City. GladAfrica has denied any wrongdoing on its part.

City manager’s signature

Central to the issue is former Tshwane city manager Moeketsi Mosola, who signed off the GladAfrica appointment. Mosola and the City parted ways in August after nearly two years’ worth of political wrangling over the GladAfrica issue. Mosola and the City signed a separation agreement in July, in which it was agreed that Mosola would be paid out for the remainder of his contract, at around R200 000 a month until February 2022. The agreement also stipulated that the City would “unconditionally and irrevocably nullify and set aside” the Bowmans report.

One last investigation

To put the issue to bed, Tshwane mayor Stevens Mokgalapa promised that the City’s Audit Performance Committee (APC) would also investigate the GladAfrica contract. The APC appointed Gobodo Forensic Investigation and Accounting on April 26 this year.

The City confirmed this week that the Gobodo appointment came at a cost of R876 792.

Seven months later, it is not clear where the investigation stands or whether its findings will be made public.

News24 understands that the Gobodo investigation itself is complete, but it appears the APC is still discussing it.

Asked when Gobodo gave its report to the APC, Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said: “The investigation is handled as an in-committee item of the APC; the items [are] discussed confidentially and [are] only to be revealed when the chairperson reports to the mayor/council. This is not unique to this case.”

Asked when the report would be tabled in council, Mashigo said the report was due to be finalised in mid-December, at which point “council business and logistics will dictate”.

He said that the council would take legal advice on whether the report would be made public, and said that at the moment, input from a various stakeholders was still being sought.

News24 asked whether these would change Gobodo’s findings. Mashigo said: “It is not known. However the nature of inputs was in the form of contributions that the investigators are expected to consider before the report is finalised.”

Gobodo declined to answer questions on the status of their investigation.

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