Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile has given Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina seven days to respond about allegations of a toilets tender scandal. Picture: City of Ekurhuleni

Johannesburg - Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Lebogang Maile has written a formal letter to the Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina, giving him seven days to respond about allegations of a R1.9 billion chemical toilets tender scandal. 

On Wednesday, an investigative report published by AmaBhungane in Daily Maverick claimed that the Ekurhuleni metro spent a staggering R1.9 billion on chemical toilets over three financial years from 2017 to 2019.

The report claimed the project to supply chemical toilets sourced from 16 small suppliers was a get-rich-quick scheme for some underperforming contractors.

The three-year tender to provide toilets to informal settlements was meant to replace the inhumane bucket system. The contract will run until June 30, 2022.

In a statement, Maile said he views the allegations contained in the article as grievous. 

Maile said an official letter was dispatched earlier Wednesday morning to Masina, soliciting a detailed response to these glaring allegations. Masina is expected to respond within seven days. 

"If indeed, these allegations are true, there needs to be corresponding consequences," Maile said. 

Maile said he has repeatedly cautioned municipalities to use public funds in a transparent and prudent manner, in accordance with finance regulations as determined by government. 

"Government funds should not by any means be misappropriated nor used as ‘get rich quick scheme' for cronies, and dubious business people," he said. 

In terms of Section 106 of the Local government, Municipal Systems Act, the MEC to designate is empowered to conduct an investigation if he has reason to believe that maladministration, fraud, corruption or any other serious malpractice has occurred in a municipality in the province. 

Maile is expected to meet all municipalities across the province to probe the Auditor General's report on the spending and unqualified opinions contained therein. 

Meanwhile, Masina has rubbished AmaBhungane's allegations, saying that it gave misleading figures on the money spent on the project.

"Then we are told we attack journo’s even when we give them facts about allegations they making. Daily Maverick was such a trash this weekend. They publish a story we had corrected that it’s not R1.9 billion rather R800m, but still go ahead misleading."

African News Agency (ANA)