Political opponents have slammed the DA-controlled Midvaal municipality after the public protector found evidence of maladministration and irregularities but could not pronounce on fraud and corruption allegations that are being investigated by the SAPS and Special Investigating Unit.
Midvaal has been dogged by controversy since allegations of corruption first became public in 2009.
The Freedom Front Plus and the ANC Gauteng welcomed Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings that the contract for legal services had been awarded to one firm for 29 years without following proper procedures or living up to the constitutional principles of fairness and competitiveness, breaches that amounted to maladministration.
Madonsela found that a firm in which DA Midvaal constituency chairman Andrew Odendaal was a partner had been acting as the council’s legal adviser since 1979, when the municipality was known as Meyerton.
The ANC said: “The report has confirmed the long-standing view of Midvaal residents that the Midvaal municipality has endemic and institutionalised maladministration to serve the DA’s nefarious agenda.”
The leader of the Freedom Front Plus in Gauteng, Jaco Mulder, said: “The DA and ANC are two sides of the same coin and time will show that the DA-controlled Midvaal is most probably the most corrupt municipality in South Africa.”
Mulder said Odendaal was suing him, FF+ Midvaal councillor Corrie Pypers, and whistle-blower and former DA councillor Kobus Hofmann for defamation.
Midvaal changed its contract with Odendaal & Summerton Incorporated in 2000, handing the firm management of all legal services, including the transfer of properties, debt collection, and legal opinions on labour matters.
It was only in 2006 that the contract was awarded to the firm on the basis of a tender.
But Madonsela found weaknesses with the 2006 tender, which she described as having been “formally competitive, but not substantively competitive” because it did not comply with the principles of fairness and competitiveness as provided for by section 217 of the constitution and the Local Government Transition Act and Municipal Structures Act.
Midvaal municipal managers had continually extended Odendaal & Summerton’s contract in circumstances in which the law firm gained “an unfair advantage over other service providers by having access to information and influence over the procurement instruments”.
In doing so, municipal managers had failed to promote the constitutional obligation of equity in public procurement processes.
Madonsela found that a company owned by Odendaal had benefited from the purchase and sale of land that had been “donated” to the municipality in settlement of an outstanding account. Odendaal’s company paid R10 000 for the land, which was valued at R118 000 and subsequently sold it for R180 000.
Mayor Timothy Nast disputed this on Tuesday, saying the land had been bought on the open market.
Nast and James Selfe, chairman of the DA federal executive, welcomed Madonsela’s report.
“No government is perfect,” Nast said. “Good governments acknowledge this and strive towards the highest standards of financial management and service delivery.”
The council would review the “potential conflict of interest” noted in relation to Odendaal’s dealings with the municipality.
Selfe said the DA would soon prohibit DA office-bearers from doing business with DA-led governments. - Political Bureau