Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo: Bongani shilubane.
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has renewed a contract with a consulting company under investigation by the public protector for alleged tender irregularities.

The public protector has been investigating complaints of alleged maladministration and wasteful, fruitless and irregular expenditure related to the contract between the city and Pragma, which ran to over R92 million excluding VAT since 2017.

It is believed that the investigation into the contract for water-related infrastructure maintenance work was completed and a report on its findings was expected to be finalised shortly.

But the city renewed the contract for another three-year period, ending in 2021 at a higher financial value - this time worth over R102m excluding VAT and enlarging the scope of work to include training.

The initial contract was evaluated at R12m excluding VAT over three years; however, over expenditure increased the contract value to over R92m.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said the city had completed its own investigations into the matter, but had now launched an investigation into the renewal of the contract.

He would not comment on the findings of the initial investigation, which he said focused on irregularities in appointments, the tender award, contract management and non-compliance with legislative and governance frameworks.

The city launched the investigation after Weekend Argus reported on the alleged irregularities and complaints laid with the public protector.

The complaints related to the appointment of engineering consultants Pragma in 2016 after the company was allegedly introduced to the city by the engineering manager to carry out an asset management improvement plan.

It also acted as advisers to the city before being awarded the contract, a process allegedly fraught with irregularities in that:

It was awarded without an internal gap analysis to determine if it was needed.

In the the appointment of a senior manager in the Water and Sanitation Department the job specifications were amended and that the current incumbent, was appointed without meeting benchmark requirements at a cost of R1.4 million per annum.

That the consultant, Pragma, was appointed to compensate for the lack of qualifications and inexperience of the individual.

In addition, an engineering manager was appointed at R100 000 per month but the amount would total R4m for the tender period.

Weekend Argus