A screenshot of a fake Twitter account created at the end of January, soon after the We Love Cities competition started on January 17.

Durban -

Opposition parties have called for the immediate suspension of Carver Media’s social media contract with the eThekwini Municipality.

This follows allegations of fake Twitter accounts, all retweeting each other and using the hashtag #welovedurban, to score points in the WWF’s sustainable cities social media competition.

Carver Media was given a R500 000 contract by the eThekwini Municipality to encourage social media users to tweet #welovedurban to increase its chances of winning.

DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said that after his own investigation, he had established Carver Media’s owners were related to senior officials in the city’s economic development and governance cluster.

Mncwango said he had also heard “from a reliable source” that the city had been planning to pay R3 million to buy the “I love Durban” trademark from the company.

“This is ridiculous. Why pay so much when we can create our own? ‘We love Durban’ can also work perfectly fine instead of wasting R3m of ratepayers’ money paying someone for three words. We can even use Zulu if needs be,” he said.

He said from the very first allegations, the municipality should have suspended the contract to avoid the bigger problems that have now emerged.

“They did not suspend it because of corruption and they knew the people who were involved and that is why we are this position.

“We have come to learn that, in this municipality, corruption is not taken seriously. They are all talk and no action,” he said.

Mncwango said what had emerged in media reports regarding this company had dented the city’s image.

NFP councillor Shaik Emam said the municipality had no choice but to suspend the contract immediately and for all payments to be stopped.

Emam said that if all the allegations were true, it meant that the company was paid for committing fraud.

“If the municipality is serious about dealing with corruption, they will take our recommendations seriously.

The contract must be suspended immediately because what has happened is really frustrating and embarrassing,” he said.

The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi said the company was not on the municipal data base.

“This company needs to return the money that it has taken from the city.

“It belongs to ratepayers,” he said.

Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said they were still investigating.

The Mercury