Johannesburg - A jobs and tender for pals scandal has rocked the City of Joburg’s finance department, casting a dark cloud over the DA administration's clean governance undertaking.
Allegations have emerged that the member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for finance was “enriching his friend” by facilitating access to lucrative tenders.
Seth Mukwevho, who is currently the department’s group head of treasury, “irregularly” received a two-month contract of over R190 000, allegedly due to his long-standing relationship with the finance MMC Professor Rabelani Dagada, according to sources in the department.
Their claims appear to be underpinned by a service-level agreement between the city and Radongo Consulting - a company in which Mukwevho held a directorship until recently - that states that Radongo was selected as a service provider because of its “extensive experience in IT-related services”.
The contract - from April to June - was for an experienced company to - chiefly - provide the city with “macroeconomic analysis” in terms of Joburg’s economic growth and employment-creation strategy.
But a company search on Radongo showed that it had only been in business from June, 2015 - less than two years before it was given the contract.
A finance official, who asked to remain anonymous, said Dagada “put pressure on the bid evaluation committee” to select Radongo, despite its lack of experience because of “the roughly 15-year friendship between him (Dagada) and Mukwevho”.
Dagada acknowledged that his relationship with Mukwevho dated back to when they were postgraduate students at University of the Witwatersrand in the early 2000s.
They participated in joint ventures subsequent to their student days, including co-authoring a book in 2011.
Dagada said he requested former group chief finance officer (CFO) Reggie Boqo to provide the “macroeconomic and statistical details” about Joburg, which Boqo put out to tender.
“Mr Mukwevho informed me that he saw the (tender) advert and that he would submit a proposal. I felt a bit uncomfortable and tried to discourage him, but to no avail. At the same time, I thought it would be proper for me to respect his constitutional right to earn a living,” Dagada told The Star.
Mukwevho’s company received R193000.01 from the city for an economic growth report he compiled for the city, an extract which was published in The Star in August.
Thembisa Peele, the city’s group head of supply-chain management, said Dagada was a politician, and should never, in terms of the National Treasury regulations, get involved in any procurement process.
“Similarly, in this transaction, he would not be required to acknowledge any possible conflict of interest,” she said.
On why Radongo was appointed despite an apparent lack of experience, Peele said: “In terms of the responses received, there were two (bidders), where one omitted to reflect price and we were left with one response that met the specifications of the bid specification committee, which included the end-user department (of finance).”
But after the two-month contract ended at the end of June, Mukwevho was appointed as a director in the finance department, allegedly also due to Dagada’s influence.
Mukwevho was then promoted to the city’s group head of treasury, less than three months after joining Joburg as a public official, where a source close to the proceedings said Mukwevho “neither observed a probation period, nor was he interviewed for his current post”.
Dagada maintained that he discouraged Mukwevho from taking on a job with the city, saying he “knew that if he (Mukwevho) gets appointed, some mud will be thrown (at) me”.
Dagada said he didn’t know that Mukwevho had applied for his current senior post, but added he “was not surprised” Mukwevho got the job with his achievements, which included three master's degrees and a PhD in investment finance.
Dagada referred questions on Mukwevho’s alleged “improper appointments” to Ishwar Ramdas, the city’s acting group chief financial officer, who acknowledged the questions which The Star sent him on Monday.
He promised to answer the questions, but never did.
Ramdas’s phone went unanswered yesterday and Mukwevho declined to comment.