Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe political appointments and the writing off of more than R11 million in irregular expenditure, among other allegations, at the DA-led Saldanha Municipality.
The investigation will cast its net to include the municipality’s tourism office at a time when the Western Cape tourism sector is in full swing this summer with full post-Covid recovery figures.
Ramaphosa has gazetted an amended SIU proclamation – in addition to a standing December 2020 proclamation – for an investigation relating to the contracting for security services by the municipality, and the payments around the tender.
In January 2021, the municipality issued a statement about the SIU security services tender probe, saying it was awaiting further communication from the SIU.
Saldanha Municipality spokesperson Ethne Lawrence was quizzed on the details of the charges and whether there were any suspended officials.
“Saldanha Bay Municipality is not aware of any irregularities,” she said. The municipality will, however, fully co-operate with the SIU and will provide all information if and when required.”
She said the municipality prided itself on clean and transparent governance.
“The municipality herewith ensures its co-operation and continued effective, efficient and economical services to the local community,” Lawrence said.
The amended SIU proclamation broadens the scope of investigation.
The probe will include looking into professional consulting engineering services for the formalisation, rezoning and subdivision, related environmental authorisation and land surveyor services for a portion of farm 282 in Middelpos, Saldanha – or bid number SBM 56/18/19.
The bidding price for bid number SBM 56/18/19 isn’t revealed in tender documents reviewed by the Cape Argus.
SIU investigators will look into the “serious maladministration in the affairs” of the municipality in relation to a strategic partnership concluded between the municipality and the Saldanha Bay Tourism Office.
Queries to the tourism office went unanswered.
Investigators are tasked with probing the expenditure of public money paid out by municipality officials to the Saldanha Bay Tourism Office, the appointment of the personal assistant for the Speaker and council support, a political administrator in the mayor’s office and a strategic advisor and the mayor’s spokesperson in the 2019/2020 financial year.
The writing off of the council’s irregular expenditure of R1 757 758 and R9 959 912 will also be scrutinised.
According to Ramaphosa’s proclamation, the irregular expenditure was spotted by the Office of the Auditor-General.