Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - Allegations of a multimillion-rand conflict-of-interest scandal have again rocked Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba over claims he influenced the funding of an NGO that he chaired for years.

Field Band Foundation (FBF), which Mashaba chaired for more than 10 years, received an R11million three-year contract beginning in December 2017, apparently after a recommendation from the mayor to the city's social development department.

Following an uproar within the city council, a decision was taken in March last year to suspend the contract pending a forensic investigation into allegations Mashaba used his influence and knowledge of FBF to benefit the organisation.

However, there seems to be confusion over when FBF were informed about the suspension. The NGO claimed to have been told eight months after the council resolution was taken.

Despite the resolution halting the lucrative funding, Mashaba’s office confirmed that R3.5m was given to FBF.

This followed a council question asked by ANC councillor Raynet Moabi on August 22. The Star sent questions to Mashaba and city manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni’s offices.

Responding on their behalf, Joburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane confirmed that FBF had received payments despite the suspension but said that Mashaba and Lukhwareni had no knowledge of this.

“Given that such payments fall outside the purview of the executive mayor as an administrative function of the city, mayor Mashaba had no knowledge of such payments and informed council that he would request the city manager to urgently look into this matter and compile a report on payments to the foundation, which will be tabled at the council meeting later this month.

“Until this matter was raised at the August 2019 council (meeting), the city manager was also not aware that a payment had allegedly been made to the foundation post the March 2018 council resolution,” Modingoane said.

“Joburg wishes to again dismiss the existence of a conflict of interest in relation to FBF doing important work for the city.

“It should be noted that mayor Mashaba declared his historic relationship with FBF prior to the city entering into a funding agreement with it in the form of a discretionary grant. Crucially, the mayor had resigned from the board of the FBF prior to him running as a mayoral candidate in January 2016,” he added, saying action would be taken should anything untoward be detected.

But FBF chairperson Brian Gibson said the NGO only received the suspension notice in January, with the communiqué dated November last year.

“Acting on legal advice and in fulfilment of its contractual obligations, the foundation continues to provide life skills and music activities to more than 600 programme beneficiaries in Cosmos City, Orange Farm, Westbury and Klipfontein View.

“The foundation is confident that we complied strictly with the formal procurement processes required by the City,” Gibson said.

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The Star