Warning as eThekwini extends contracts

2013-10-09 00:00

THE extension of contracts for housing projects that were issued by the eThekwini Municipality without being subjected to the normal tender process could have a negative impact on its plan to achieve a clean audit.

So says DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango after the city’s Executive Committee (Exco) yesterday approved the use of section 116(3) of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

This means the companies supplying building material for the housing projects where residents, through a co-operative, build their own homes, also have been granted more time to deliver on their contracts. This will, however, be done at no additional cost to the metro.

But the act also allows council to play an oversight role by holding council officials assigned to the projects accountable.

The city is using this same act to allow continuance of a project where water tanks and electricity are being installed at the Hammonds Farm housing project.

“When a contractor is appointed for the construction for the houses, all specifications are given. But it amazes me why they now use Section 116 for the installation of water tanks and electricity,” said Mncwango.

He said poor planning by the city would lead to the council again receiving a negative report from the auditor-general, who had previously expressed concern over how housing contracts were handled in the city.

Mgcwango’s warning to Exco fell on deaf ears when ANC councillors said he could not question the budget since the DA had not voted for it.

Yesterday, Exco members approved the use of section 116 in six projects, including road construction and companies that do domestic and international travel arrangements for the city. The contracts were extended for a further six months, at a cost of over R22 million in the 2013/14 financial year.

City manager S’bu Sithole said there was nothing wrong with the use of section 116. He said the housing projects were almost complete, and he believed that they would be saving a lot of money by allowing the existing contracts to continue.

The city’s human settlements and infrastructure committee chairperson Nigel Gumede said the city was under enormous pressure to fast-track housing delivery. He said the DA should not raise concerns about the development in the city when they refused to vote for the budget.

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