By Lindsay Dentlinger

The City of Cape Town is probing a R4,5-million contract it entered into with the City of Johannesburg for consulting services in November 2004 to overhaul its staffing structure after it emerged during review by the Auditor-General that the work done does not match the payments made.

In particular, the consultant Makgane Thobejane seconded to work on the organisational structure review and implementation plan, made several claims for which the supporting documentation did not add up, and included toiletries, household items and several meals.

According to the Auditor-General's report for the year ended June 2006, the appointment of the business unit of the City of Johannesburg appeared to have been made without calling for a tender and without council approval.

The City's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) met on Wednesday to divide among themselves a number of audit queries including this one for further investigation.

Under scrutiny are two invoices to the City of Johannesburg, one for a payment of R502 904 made in August 2004, which includes an amount of R144 000 plus disbursements of R8 847 for Thobejane.

No supporting document for the payment can be traced. It also appears that certain expenses were incurred on weekends and public holidays.

Thobejane could not be traced on Wednesday. An official at the City of Johannesburg said he no longer worked there. He had left his post more than a year ago, the official said.

Other payments to the City of Johannesburg under investigation are for the amounts of R820 231 and R545 112.

"If Mr Thobejane was seconded to the CCT (City of Cape Town), it is unclear why, which can only be classified as excessive, expense claims for lunches and breakfasts are claimed. It is also unclear how these items relate to the project for which Makgane Thobejane was seconded to the CCT for," says the A-G's report.

The city's expenditure department has requested certain documentation from the City of Johannesburg but from a cursory review, the A-G says they do not constitute adequate audit evidence to merit work or payment of R4.5m.

The A-Gs report also notes that while it is being claimed that the city's former management team Ikhwezi and the mayoral committee were kept fully informed of what work was being done by Thobejane and that it was fully minuted, there is no evidence to support these claims.

"There is almost no evidence, in spite of exhaustive searches by a number of officials to collaborate such a stance. To the best of their knowledge no competitive bidding process was undertaken, the whole contract was negotiated at a political level and signed by the then City Manager," said the AG's report.