Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. FILE PHOTO

JOHANNESBURG  - A forensic probe into how the city of Johannesburg awarded a contract to fleet management company Afrirent has dismissed any notion of political interference or influence in the process, mayor Herman Mashaba said on Wednesday.

Mashaba launched the investigation following a news report alleging the R1 billion contract was manipulated to benefit the Economic Freedom Fighters party, which is in a partnership with Mashaba's Democratic Alliance to run Johannesburg.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mashaba said he had the previous day been briefed on the final forensic investigative report following its submission to the city manager.

"The forensic report dismisses any notion that there was political interference or influence in the award of the contract to Afrirent through a thorough process which included, engaging the amaBhungane journalist who had written the original story," he said.

The investigation involved interviews with officials involved in the supply chain management processes of the award and none claimed to have been pressured or influenced, politically or otherwise, Mashaba added.

"The forensic investigation clears our multi-party government of any wrongdoing on the part of its political leadership," he said.

He conceded that the report did make material findings of concern relating to the administration of the city of Johannesburg and its supply chain management processes. The supply chain processes to appoint a service provider for the city’s fleet requirements were beset by unnecessary delays requiring constant extensions with the previous service provider, Mashaba noted.

"Furthermore, the original tender process was declared invalid by a probity report which found material and fatal flaws in the process followed. The investigation found that the probity report was correct in its assessments," he said.

Both the delays and the failed tender process, placed the city in the invidious position of having to exercise emergency provisions of the Municipal Finance Management Act to avoid the interruption of essential services dependent on the city's fleet contract, which included the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department  and emergency management services vehicles.

For these serious failures, Mashaba said, the city had initiated disciplinary action against various officials, two of whom resigned prior the commencement of their disciplinary hearings.

- African News Agency (ANA)