Durban - The eThekwini municipality has again come under fire for its use of section 36 regulations to award multimillion-rand contracts without putting them out to tender.
It emerged on Thursday that the city had awarded R135 million in contracts using this emergency process last month alone.
Section 36 of the procurement regulations allows for deviation from normal tender processes in the awarding of contracts in situations deemed emergencies, but there have been concerns that city officials are abusing these regulations.
Members of the DA on Thursday questioned the municipality’s ability to plan following revelations that contracts awarded through section 36 last month represented 41.8 percent of the R323m in deals signed.
About 80 percent of the section 36 tenders (R108m) were for the extension of security contracts held by companies.
They included a contract of R15m with Enforce, R17.5m with Isidingo, R9.3m with KZN Security Services, R17.8m with Securico Metsu, R2.4m with Sharks Protection Services, R7m with Khuselani and R6m with Vusa Isizwe.
The contracts are for securing municipal sites and safeguarding councillors.
City treasurer Krish Kumar told the finance committee that the security tenders under scrutiny were not new, but extensions of contracts.
The city manager, after receiving opinion, was of the view that the security contract could not be awarded as he feared that this would lead to appeals.
The security contract was expected to be awarded in December.
But the DA was not convinced, with its caucus leader, Zwakele Mncwango, saying that these were new contacts.
“Let us not play a game of technicalities here. If we are talking of a year, these are contracts and not extensions.”
Mncwango said an audit of these security contracts was needed.
“These guys just want to hide behind this issue to hide their corrupt activities and to protect some of these companies,” he said.
DA councillor Tex Collins questioned why the city seemed not to have any planning capacity, saying most of the section 36 awards were “simply not emergencies”.
Members of the committee noted that the section 36 regulation was being invoked less frequently, but said its use could be reduced further.