Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and her deputy Kevin Malunga. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

Cape Town - A complainant has asked for a review of a decision by Public Protector (PP) Busisiwe Mkhwebane with regard to an investigation into allegations of mismanagement and nepotism at one of the City of Cape Town’s departments.

Mkhwebane’s office was asked in 2017 to investigate complaints of alleged maladministration, wasteful, fruitless and irregular expenditure related to the contract between the City and asset management company Pragma, which, initially valued at R12million excluding VAT, quickly ran to over R100m.

The appointment of the consulting company for water-related infrastructure maintenance work was also questioned as the department had, according to the complainant, suitably qualified employees.

However, the PP said that she planned to exercise her “discretion on the resolution of complaints” and close the matter as she was satisfied that the issues raised by the complainant had been thoroughly dealt with by an internal forensic investigation that was conducted by the City’s forensic services department (FSD).

A spokesperson for the PP, Oupa Segwale said: “She was favoured with a copy of the FSD’s report. She gets progress reports on implementation of the FSDs”.

Mkhwebane was asked to investigate whether the City acted properly with regard to:

* Appointments of senior managers in the water and sanitation department in that the advertisements of the posts were amended to suit certain individuals.

* Awarding a tender contract to Pragma Africa in 2016 to conduct certain water-related functions.

It was alleged the engineering consultants were introduced to the City by the engineering manager to carry out an asset management improvement plan and also acted as advisors to the City before being awarded the tender.

The contract itself was allegedly awarded without an internal gap analysis to determine if it was needed.

The controversial contract with the consulting company was renewed this year for another three years, extending it to 2021, this time worth over R102m excluding VAT, and enlarging the scope of work to include training.

The City has maintained that the report was “confidential”.

But the complainant’s appeal for a review of the PP’s report was based on the fact that it was not clear how the implementation of the City’s recommendations would be monitored and what concrete steps had been taken against the alleged irregular appointments of the senior managers and the consulting company.

The City received an unqualified report with findings from the Auditor-General for the 2017/18 financial year - a second time in a row.

Some of the areas listed as of concern included bid specifications for the tender that were drafted in a biased manner.

The AG report also highlighted that irregular expenditure was not prevented.

Weekend Argus