I take AmaBhungane's claims seriously – Herman Mashaba

Joburg mayor denies he is turning a blind eye to corruption to keep the EFF on board

Mashaba Notes AmaBhungane Report, Dismisses Tenuous Links to Political Complicity

29 November 2018

I reiterate my statement issued earlier today, that I take the claims made by AmaBhungane seriously and have commissioned an independent forensic investigation overseen by General Shadrack Sibiya.

I further reiterate that should any wrong doing be found to have taken place, the harshest and swiftest action will follow without fear or favour.

I stand by my remarks earlier today, that I will not allow my reputation or that of the multi-party government to be tarnished in this coalition arrangement. We will not govern at any cost.

Having said this, I have noted some points about the story, as they relate to the City of Johannesburg, which require an immediate response.

It is important to state from the outset that the extent to which large parts of the report rely on tenuous links, inference and timing, is most unfortunate in dealing with such a serious matter.

As far as it pertains to the multi-party government, the report offers no substantive evidence of political complicity in the alleged wrong doing. Instead, it relies upon supposition, coincidence and the personal views of officials to substantiate its claims, some of whom have been disciplined for allegedly colluding in the very same tender process.

It must be emphatically stated that legislation prohibits the involvement of politicians in the procurement processes. At no point was the political leadership in the City involved in the decision to appoint any particular service provider. Our focus was to ensure the consistent and interrupted provision of services to our residents that was at risk in this process. 

Ironically, it was as a result of a probity report into the original tender – which found that the bidding process had suffered material defects arising from officials manipulating the process to benefit particular bidders – that led to the City taking the route of utilizing Regulation 32.

As a result of these probity outcomes, the City took action against implicated officials in line with the City’s commitment to make corruption enemy number one. As such, those implicated were suspended and a formal investigation instituted. Before these disciplinary proceedings could be completed, the officials in question elected to resign from the City. These are some of the very same officials relied upon in the article.

The article, however, makes an unsubstantiated claim regarding the timing of the passing of the budget, and decision to proceed with Regulation 32. In doing so it ignores the substantive reasons that led to this decision.

The claim flies in the face of the substantial work undertaken by the multi-party coalition government to ensure that support for the budget was received across the various parties within Council. The claim is not only baseless, but mischievous and malicious in nature.

I can emphatically confirm that the discussions surrounding the budget focussed exclusively on the rates and tariff proposals tabled in Council, and our attempts to find common ground. At no point was the fleet, or any other contract, discussed during the budget negotiations between any members of the coalition or any other party.

As result of the delays arising from the probity findings, the City was left with no choice but to resort to the utilization of a Regulation 32 in order to ensure critical service delivery was not negatively affected.

Without the utilization of Regulation 32, services such as public safety, law enforcement, emergency services and frontline services would have ground to a halt to on 1 November.

The idea that turning a blind-eye to corruption is the ‘cost of doing business within our coalition environment’, is deeply offensive to a multi-party government that has dedicated itself to rooting out wrong doing in the City.

On the contrary, the multi-party government has  a proven track record of fighting corruption that has resulted in the investigation of over 4,000 cases amounting to over R24 billion.

Over and above the independent forensic investigation, I welcome any organization or competent body to come forward and investigate this matter and assure them the City will be open, transparent and accountable in our approach.

I will also be writing to AmaBhugane to request their assistance in working with the City’s Forensics Unit. This includes a request for any information in the possession of AmaBhugane that will assist the City to ensure that no stone is left unturned in uncovering the truth.

I stand confidently behind this offer, because the reputation of both myself and the multi-party coalition government cannot be impugned in this manner.

Issued by Luyanda Mfeka, Director: Mayoral Communications, Office of the Executive Mayor, 29 November 2018