Daily Archives: Sep 8, 2016

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DA scrutinises four major Tshwane deals

THE multibillion-rand, 27-year Tshwane House contract and the metro’s flagship Wi-Fi and broadband programmes, whose costs have escalated, are among the agreements the DA is reviewing, believing corruption was involved.

The city bled billions in irregular expenditure over several years and has become synonymous with the perils of irregular tenders.

New executive mayor Solly Msimanga fired the first warning shot on Wednesday, while DA councillor Lex Middelberg in an interview on Thursday, said: “There are actually going to be real consequences now for irregular expenditure, we will (go) … to court.”

Middelberg said the DA was focusing on four contracts.

In 2015, the municipality entered into a lease-to-own contract for Tshwane House, its new headquarters, despite objections from the council.

“It [the contract] was based on commercial rental rates that the city was paying for its rented office space in town. But the price the city was paying for its rental space was three to four times as much as that of average commercial rates,” Middelberg said.

The contract is for R5bn, which will be paid over 27 years. However, this excludes annual escalations and inflation adjustments.

The controversial Peu Capital Partners smart meter contract is also in the DA’s sights.

“The Peu contract is obviously going to be reviewed, [it] has already be declared irregular expenditure and noted as such by the auditor-general … We will start the process of recovering the nearly R3bn that was lost on the contract,” Middelberg said. The matter is in court, where the validity of Peu’s contract with the city is being challenged.

The city’s free Wi-Fi, which was supposed to cost R75m a year, but has ballooned to R400m since it was introduced in 2014, will also be up for scrutiny, as will Tshwane’s broadband service as the DA tries to untangle a web that has led to the city paying about R300m.

The Wi-Fi service has only 90,000 users, but has 1.2-million registered unique users. “It would be far cheaper to give them each a dedicated line to their homes and it would cost the city less,” Middelberg said. The DA would continue to provide the Wi-Fi, but it needed to be at a reasonable cost, he said.

ANC spokesman in Tshwane Teboho Joala challenged the DA to prove that its officials were part of any wrongdoing in the metro.

“We find it unfortunate that they (the DA) are grandstanding and threatening people on the council instead of focusing on what people want, which are services,” he said.


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Tshwane metro police won’t tolerate illegal land invasion

An Autopax bus was torched on Tsamaya Street on Tuesday night after yet another eviction by metro police and the Red Ants.

The Tshwane metro police (TMPD) will not tolerate any illegal land invasions following ongoing evictions across the city. This follows yet another eviction by the TMPD and the Red Ants in Mamelodi on Tuesday, which led to violence and unrest.

An Autopax bus was torched on Tsamaya Street on Tuesday night following continuous barricading of the road with rocks and burning tyres throughout the day.

TMPD spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said, as prescribed by newly elected mayor Solly Msimanga, they would not allow illegal land invasion.

“The mayor pronounced that we would not allow illegal land grabs and that is the stance. We are still monitoring the areas across Tshwane which are hotspots, and those that occupy land illegally will be dealt with,” he told The Citizen.

ALSO READ >> Pretoria West evictions strike again

Mamelodi police spokesperson Captain Johannes Maheso said no arrests were made and no one was injured during the unrest.

“Investigations continue and a docket of malicious damage to property and public violence was opened. Police have been deployed in that area to monitor the situation.”

The unrest follows a spate of unrest and evictions across Tshwane, with the Red Ants forcibly removing illegal occupants in Pretoria West last week and in Mamelodi Extension 4 last month.

According to an anonymous source who spoke to The Citizen last month, the chaos was allegedly an attempt to make Pretoria ungovernable by making residents believe they have new houses and land and subsequently taking it away from them.


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Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga rejects South Africa luxury cars

A new mayor in South Africa says he will give away a fleet of new luxury cars ordered by his predecessors.

Solly Msimanga, from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), said the vehicles would instead be given to a police anti-hijack unit.

However, he will continue to use the luxury car used by the previous mayor.

The DA took control of Tshwane, a metropolitan area including the capital Pretoria, from the African National Congress (ANC) in local elections.

Mr Msimanga said no more luxury cars would be bought under his leadership.

He took over from the governing ANC, which lost control of the capital for the first time since 1994, last month.

More on this and other African stories

Four things from South Africa election

The ANC bought 10 new BMW 3 series vehicles, which are yet to be delivered, for 5 million rand ($356,000; £266,000), local reports say.

The cars were meant for members of the mayoral council, with the ANC said to be confident it would retain control of the municipality in the elections.


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New Tshwane broom sweeps clean

TSHWANE will introduce a range of incentives to attract investors, including broadening services and keeping the city clean.

Mayor Solly Msimanga on Thursday said he has set his sights on turning the city – SA’s capital and official seat of government – into the continent’s economic hub, while stabilising its finances.

Msimanga was speaking at the launch of the Pioneers of Workplace Engagement (PoWE) Survey at the JSE in Sandton. He said the city would create incentives for investors to help develop the economy and create employment.

“I see no reason why Tshwane should not be the economic, industrial, logistics, processing and exporting hub of choice in Africa. Take up your shares in another exchange, take up your shares in the future of Tshwane and join us in a great journey,” he said.

“We want to make sure that within the ambit of what we can control in our rates and taxes, we can look at the special rates that we can use to attract people in those areas,” he said.

The survey by assessment company Thomas International was launched to over 100 business leaders in the JSE and is an online research tool meant to track employee relations and help public and private sector employees improve employer engagement levels.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch, Msimanga said the city was also focusing on cutting costs and reprioritising some of its funds.

“The priority is to turn the city’s financials around; we are in serious financial trouble as the city of Tshwane, but that is not a train smash.

“We have started introducing some cost-cutting initiatives that will see us saving millions of rand that can now be channelled towards proper service delivery.”

He added: “I’ve turned away now vehicles from being channelled towards the members of the mayoral committee and towards the newly introduced high risk and anti-hijacking unit which I think is something needed to be introduced in our city.”

Msimanga, the first DA mayor in Tshwane, has only been in office for two weeks but has already made a controversial decision not to allocated luxury cars for city officials, as part of cost-saving measures. He has said metro executives will instead have to contend with driving in Hyundai or Toyota cars.

Thomas International managing director for Africa Andries Keun said Tshwane would be the first municipality to take part in PoWE with the aim of improving how city officials work.

“With SA experiencing negative economic growth in 2016, there is an urgent need to create a nationwide benchmark of just how engaged people are in workplaces,” he said.


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Msimanga lays criminal charges against erstwhile senior ANC officials

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga on Thursday laid criminal charges against three senior officials from the city’s previous ANC administration‚ as well as three municipal entities.

Charges of corruption were laid based on two forensic reports Msimanga had in his possession.

Those involved could only be named once they had been formally charged‚ said Msimanga‚ who is the DA’s first mayor in South Africa’s official capital city and seat of government.

The three officials no longer held their high office in the City of Tshwane‚ where one was a most senior official in former mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa’s private office‚ and another a senior procurement official‚ Msimanga said.

“This is just the first set of corruption charges to be laid. There is a web of corruption that I am uncovering‚ and there will be more charges against more officials and former leaders to come. I am determined to cut out corruption in Tshwane decisively‚” he said.

Msimanga said the forensic reports were compiled by external audit companies and dealt with corruption‚ fraud and wanton misuse of public money in two projects – R90m spent on the City Hall project and over-expenditure in the mayoral residence project. The former included upgrades to Ramokgopa’s office‚ which damaged the historic building and left it unsuitable for use‚ Msimanga said‚ also claiming that the upgrades did not justify the enormous price-tag.

“I’ve laid charges of corruption because I promised the people of Tshwane to cut out corruption‚ and to pursue those who previously led a corrupt administration.”

Last week‚ while giving a report during a council meeting‚ Msimanga pulled out from his bag what he said where forensic reports. He waved them in the direction of ANC councillors‚ saying: “Let me explain to the house why there is this boiling thing that is happening across us. You see‚ I am sitting with reports that are starting to shine some light on some of the dealings that have been taking place.”

He said he had five reports which he claimed had been “suppressed for the longest time”.

Msimanga told ANC councillors that the city was coming for them. “Some will change their suits into the orange uniform very soon.”

ANC councillors at the time challenged Msimanga to reveal the details of the reports‚ saying if there were allegations of corruption he should refer the matter to the police.


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Msimanga warns corrupt former Tshwane officials

Johannesburg – The new Executive Mayor of Tshwane Solly Msimanga on Thursday said his administration had already reported to the police acts of corruption that have been uncovered in the past two weeks.

Msimanga, who took over as mayor on 19 August, said charges have been laid against officials implicated in “shady” dealings.

At least three officials from the previous administration have been implicated in the alleged corruption.

He warned that corrupt officials who are no longer part of the present administration have not been exonerated.

Msimanga made his remarks during the launch of the 2016 Pioneers of Workplace Engagement (PoWE) survey at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in Sandton, which was attended by more than 100 business people.

He said the new Tshwane administration was trying to fast track outstanding matters so that it can change Tshwane’s dire financial state. The City plans to recover the money lost through corruption so that it can be channelled towards service delivery. The mayor said the City needs money to ensure that the residents of Hammanskraal and Phomolong have clean water, electricity and title deeds and flushing toilets.

He pledged to value those who serve in his administration and establish a level of professionalism and pride.

Msimanga said the city was in “serious financial troubles”, however, he assured his audience that he will turn the city’s financials around. He said his administration had introduced cost cutting initiatives that will result in millions of rand being channelled to proper service delivery. “I’ve turned away vehicles,” said Msimanga, adding that the funds would be channelled to the newly introduced high risk and anti hijack units.

“A team has been sent to overseas to learn on narcotics, which we will use to combat the Nyaope fight.”

He said the City plans to turn the Wonderboom Airport into a “logistics airport”, which will create jobs and expand tourism.

“Our city is very rich in heritage, and we haven’t been marketing it very well. That’s one of the things we will engage in to grow the tourism industry,” Msimanga said.

He said the City will be the first South African metropolitan municipality to partake in PoWE survey. The results of the PoWE survey, which aims to create a nationwide benchmark of how engaged people are in South African workplaces, will be released next year.


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