Cape Town -
Concerns about the way the City of Cape Town introduced its controversial new logo and corporate identity continue to mount, with the National Party SA (NPSA) requesting the Public Protector to investigate alleged irregularities.
In the letter to Thuli Madonsela, NPSA leader Achmat Williams raised two issues: that there had been no public participation process, and that one of the companies awarded the branding tender was involved in communications tender controversy in the premier’s office in 2011.
Williams said the logo, that was pushed through as one of the last items on the agenda of February’s council meeting, then appeared on official council pamphlets just hours later at the Design Indaba Expo. “What would have happened if the logo had not been approved…?”
Williams also asked the Public Protector to probe the way in which the city awarded the branding tender to a joint venture of King James and Yellowwood Future Architects.
The city’s director of strategic branding and communication, Carol Avenant, used to work with Yellowwood. This company is a subsidiary of TWBA/Hunt Lascaris, the firm involved in the provincial government’s tender controversy in 2011. Avenant was then working in the premier’s communications office.
“Although it appears as if she has declared her interests, we believe there is more here than meets the eye, especially after a previous tender in the directorate of tourism, events and marketing was cancelled in October 2013 over alleged irregularities.”
Williams said this matter was so serious that the city had called for a forensic investigation that included that confiscation of the laptops of certain officials.
“We strongly believe that there should be a connection between these two tenders.” He said the branding tender, awarded to the King James/Yellowwood joint venture in December 2013, was “too much of a coincidence (printing of posters for the DA’s election process), especially with elections around the corner.”
The NPSA asked Madonsela to demand to see King James’ letter of appointment, to clarify Avenant’s role in the process and to establish the cost of implementing the logo over a three-year period.
Mayoral spokesman Solly Malatsi said in response: “The city is confident that all the necessary processes were followed in relation to the adoption of the new corporate identity and payoff-line by council. The city will make all the necessary information available to the Public Protector, if and when, this is required.”
He added that the branding tender was awarded in an open and transparent process and that Avenant had declared her employment history. King James, the second agency involved, had no part of the provincial tender awarded three years ago.
“The question that needs to be asked of the NPSA, is whether they are against the idea of progress and shared responsibility, as surely they cannot be asking the Public Protector to rule on colours and shapes?”
Meanwhile, concerned Franschhoek resident Michael Pickstone-Taylor, has offered R500 “or conditionally more”, to pay for legal opinion on how to convince the city to drop its new logo.
George Sieraha, a representative of the Durbanville Community Forum, is offering to buy the old logo.