The Joburg Roads Agency's board has a different chair, Albert Mokoena, who was dismissed as home affairs director-general in 1999.
The newspaper says the city is investigating allegations that the JRA board interfered with supply chain processes, demanding that officials seek board approval when drawing up specifications.
We’ve seen this road before. Similar allegations were made in an eight-page March 2018 memo, Flashing Red Lights, by Sean Phillips after he resigned as JRA managing director.
Citing the Municipal Finance Management Act, Phillips had told then mayor Herman Mashaba, and the city manager, that what the chair was asking was illegal. Phillips’ memo was published in Business Day and featured on TV’s Carte Blanche at the time.
In his memo, Phillips said he was duty-bound as accounting officer to resist and prevent interference in supply chain management by any person, including board members.
“If an irregularity occurs, the accounting officer alone is responsible and accountable. The chair’s wish to be involved in the award of tenders cannot be attributed to him being ‘handson’. It is illegal, regardless of whether he knew it to be so.”
On 24 April, 2018, I asked the city’s Group Forensic Investigation Service (GFIS) to investigate Phillips’ allegations.
At a meeting where I suggested this, Mashaba said his office received thousands of allegations of corruption and GFIS could not investigate each one. I therefore made the request in writing but heard nothing beyond an acknowledgement – until this year.
With the city manager on his way out, I asked the acting city manager to assist in getting feedback from GFIS. This time, GFIS responded promptly. It is investigating. Asked me for phone numbers.
According to the Sunday Times, mayor Geoffrey Makhubo said he was taking the latest allegations seriously. That’s different from the way his predecessor reacted in 2018.
In this year’s request, I also asked the acting city manager whether he, as the official ultimately responsible for service delivery in Johannesburg, was satisfied that the JRA was functioning optimally and corruption-free.
Obviously the JRA is not functioning optimally. Phillips linked the corruption allegations to JRA dysfunctionality. That has worsened in the intervening years. To be clear, the officials whom we councillors work with daily are doing their best under difficult circumstances. The trouble is higher up.
Months after Phillips’ departure, the JRA board was reconfigured – retaining the same chair who had been the focus of complaints. Now, the board has a different chair, Albert Mokoena, who was dismissed as home affairs director-general in 1999, “for running a basketball team from his office”.
In 2004, Mokoena was forced to resign as the South African Football Association CEO after a sex scandal, says the Sunday Times. Great choice for a chair. Mokoena and his predecessor as JRA board chair are both accused of interference in tenders and both are IFP.
Phillips’ 2018 allegations included collusion between the IFP and EFF over tenders. Of course, Mashaba would know nothing about that. He was merely mayor. His survival in office depended on both parties.
Look out for potholes and other hazards on roads ahead. Choose a less pitted path.
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