Call for full probe into ‘cancelled’ contract

2010-07-02 00:00

The Msunduzi Municipality has ordered a full scale investigation into the mysterious extension of a contract that was meant to have been cancelled almost two years ago.

This after documents tabled at yesterday’s sitting of the executive committee (Exco) revealed that senior managers extended the contract without informing council.

In July, 2004 the municipality entered into a contract for the publication of an internal newsletter for a period of three years.

In August, 2007 the municipality’s procurement unit wrote a letter on behalf of currently suspended procurement manager Francis Grantham stating that the municipality “has elected to extend the existing terms and conditions of the above contract to 31 October 2007”.

The company agreed to the extension on the same day.

When the three month extension lapsed, the contracted company wrote to council requesting that they either confirm a renewal of the contract for another two years or cancel it.

Grantham responded in November 2007 to say the contract had been suspended until further notice and the company responded by questioning the suspension.

That same month, former municipal manager Rob Haswell asked Exco to decide if they wanted to continue with the publication of the internal newsletter and the matter was stood down.

In November 2008, Grantham wrote a report stating that the contract would be extended for “a further two years ending on 31st December 2010”.

Haswell wrote to the company on December 15, 2008 saying: “we … look forward to the continued use of the [newsletter] as a medium to inform and update our citizens.”

This despite compiling a report to Exco in November 2007 stating: “ … it is not possible to definitely assess whether [the newsletter] has been cost-effective in producing the desired result among our city residents”.

From February to November 2009 the company was paid almost R1, 5 million without Exco’s knowledge or approval.

This amount excludes VAT.

Invoices received from December 2009 to May this year have not been processed for payment.

Acting deputy municipal manager for corporate services Kass Thaver said: “If there is anything untoward in the entire process, it will form part of the broad investigations commissioned by the administrator using auditors and experts to look into all aspects of contracts awarded and renewed for a period going back four years.”

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert, who has been querying the mysterious extension of the contract since December last year, said “there are anomalies regarding this” because Exco had given instruction for the cancellation of the contract and all extensions took place without Exco’s knowledge.

“I’m really not happy about this. It doesn’t read properly,” he said.

ANC councillor Gerrit Meyer was in agreement, saying: “I’m also concerned [and] … the documents are not complete.”

Thaver said that in his investigation of the contract, he found no records of it being cancelled.

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