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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s branding at major events is at risk, amid claims from senior municipal officials that a three-year, multimillion rand tender may have been cancelled just weeks before it was set to be awarded.
And while the city denied the speculation, saying only that the tender had not been cancelled, the Cape Argus has seen official city correspondence to the contrary.
“I have received instructions from the city manager’s office that all evaluation on this tender must stop with immediate effect,” the correspondence stated.
City spokeswoman Priya Reddy said the tender was for a service provider to help the city with its branding. One staffer said the city did not own its branding content and used agency materials belonging to and branded as Cape Town Tourism and Wesgro.
One of the events where the city’s branding could be affected is the recently signed agreement which will see Cape Town along with Polokwane and Bloemfontein being host cities in the non-Fifa Chan soccer tournament in January. The marketing commitment is valued at about R6 million, and sources claim even this event could be affected.
Sounding the alarm, one official said: “If there is no agency to organise the delivery of the event, the city will have to find an alternative solution to prevent being in breach of the host city agreement.”
Another insider claimed the city had no material of an international standard available to pull off the Chan tournament deal without professional help.
“Without a dedicated agency taking care of the nitty-gritty details we will not be able to showcase what the city has to offer,” she added.
But Reddy said delays in finalising the tender would have “absolutely no impact” on major events as the city’s tourism integrated branding departments would work together to “ensure maximum impact for the city”.
One official cautioned that the decision to cancel the tender was in contravention of the council’s supply chain management policy, and he asked to be removed from the relevant committees.
And while the tender has not officially been cancelled, senior DA members confirmed that the “official tender is off and the city should make do with what they have”.
There are claims that the row relates to tenders and political interference, with some officials suggesting that the city has created a post for Carol Avenant, a former communications director in Premier Helen Zille’s department, and that the tender was stopped so that she could take over the work.
Reddy said Avenant was the director of the city’s integrated strategic communication and branding department, which was the “contract owner and driver” of the process to review the city’s brand strategy. She was employed only by the city.
Avenant was linked to the communications tender scandal in the provincial government when it emerged that she had worked for Yellowwood Future Architects, owned by TBWA/Hunt Lascaris which was awarded the lucrative two-year contract.
The ANC has also demanded answers over Avenant’s appointment, with Tony Ehrenreich saying: “It is highly irregular and should be investigated as it poses a risk. Jobs for pals that has been a feature of the DA administration must be stopped.”
The ACDP’s Demetrius Dudley said the DA was not being truthful in its redeployment of staff between the two levels of government. “The city is supposed to encourage investment from outside South Africa and encourage existing companies by using their expertise.
“We are concerned that the DA is going outside its core business of running the city by creating and then running with these opportunities.”