eThekwini asks for probe into online campaigner

2014-03-21 00:00

THE eThekwini Metro has instructed its own Ombudsman to investigate allegations against a digital media company contracted to promote the city online for a global environmental competition.

Carver Media, who was awarded a R495 000 contract without going to tender, has been accused of lying about its online profile and now questions are being asked as to whether the company was in fact registered.

Carver Media was mandated to promote the city in the We Love Cities Campaign — an initiative by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to promote sustainable and safe cities.

Durban was one of 33 cities globally competing in the competition.

The competition ended yesterday with the results being announced on March 27.

Metro communications head Tozi Mthethwa, who earlier this week defended the selection of Carver Media on the basis that they were the best company for the job because they claimed they owned the trademark to the phrase “I Love Durban” said the city has noted the on-going allegations “with concern”.

“In light of these allegations, the City Integrity and Investigations Unit will conduct an investigation on the veracity of these allegations and appropriate action will be taken,” said Mthethwa.

The tender was labelled excessive by opposition political parties. Carver Media operates a Twitter account @ILuv­DBN and an I Love Durban Facebook page. The contract required the company to load two Facebook status updates a week, upload three pictures to Facebook a week, send a bulk e-mail, upload videos, tweet with the hashtag #welovedurban and complete target advertising on online platforms.

On Monday, Durban social media commentators accused the company of generating fake Twitter user accounts and presented evidence to back it up.

Carver Media co-owner Praneetha Aniruth has denied all the allegations.

It is also being asked whether Carver Media was in fact a registered company. A search found that Carver Holdings, the parent company of Carver Media, was in the process of final deregistration due to not filing its annual returns while Carver IT, of which Aniruth was also a director, was also being deregistered.

Mthethwa said the city will not comment any further on this matter until the investigation is completed.


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