Accounting for GladAfrica: Will Tshwane city manager get away with it?

2019-07-31 12:11
Moeketsi Mosola (File, Netwerk24)

Moeketsi Mosola (File, Netwerk24)

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As Tshwane city manager Moeketsi Mosola leaves office on Wednesday, any hope of accountability for his role in the GladAfrica contract scandal appears to be leaving with him.

All three major parties in the city – the DA, ANC, and the EFF – deny that the matter will be left to die. But the reality is that Mosola will leave his post several million rand richer, with a guarantee that the only proper investigation into GladAfrica so far will be buried.

A closed-doors council meeting last Thursday saw the parties agreeing to a separation agreement to that effect, with the support of the DA and the ANC.

The multimillion-rand project management consultancy agreement between the City of Tshwane and GladAfrica, signed in November 2017, was Mosola’s responsibility.

READ MORE: Tshwane city manager to leave office at end of month

It was repeatedly found to have been irregular – by the Auditor-General, law firm Bowmans, and two other legal opinions.

GladAfrica was appointed as a consultant to help the City manage its infrastructure development projects.

The City spent almost R500m on the GladAfrica contract from its inception in November 2017, to February this year, according to a report to the mayoral committee from February.

The contract has now been cancelled, but it has damaged the City.

The mayoral committee report states that it has "major implication(s) for the City’s capacity in managing and implementing its projects".

This is because the GladAfrica contract was supposed to be a stop-gap mechanism to help the City roll out its infrastructure programme, while it built up its internal project management capacity.

READ MORE: Maile wants answers on Tshwane city manager's reported 'R7m golden handshake'

As Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa indicated during his state of the city speech this year, the City will have to spend another R15m building an internal unit to take over from GladAfrica.

Yet, the terms of a separation agreement agreed to by Mosola and the City, tabled in council behind closed doors last Thursday, stipulate that Mosola will be compensated to the tune of R7m.

'It's nobody's first choice'

And the only meaningful investigation into GladAfrica thus far, by law firm Bowmans, will never be referred to by the municipality again.

News24 pressed the ANC, the EFF and the DA about what accountability there will be for the mess.

Buried under a heap of legalese, jargon and acronyms, the message seems to be that there will not be much accountability at all.

As News24 reported last week, DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said the separation agreement was the most "practical" way to move forward, as the city manager still enjoyed the "protection" of the ANC and the EFF.

READ MORE: Tshwane impasse over GladAfrica shows up weaknesses in coalition politics

He referred further questions from News24 on Tuesday to DA governance head James Selfe.

Selfe said he had been assured by Mokgalapa that Mosola could still be held accountable if the City's internal probe, by its Audit Performance Committee (APC), found wrongdoing.

He said the party could not rely on the ANC or the EFF to vote with them if they had tried to remove Mosola through a vote of no confidence. The ANC and the EFF had failed to back the DA on two previous efforts to remove Mosola that way.

"It's nobody’s first choice, a pay-out like that. But what actuated the municipality was the fact that if we want to go the legal route or disciplinary route, it would have been years and years and millions and millions in legal fees, whereas this is a much cleaner, if unsatisfactory, result," Selfe said.

Referring to the APC probe, Selfe said: "If he’s (Mosola) found guilty of anything, he can still be held civilly or criminally liable."

'We fold our arms'

But the APC investigation is an exploratory probe to see if the GladAfrica matter is worth referring to another internal body, the Financial Disciplinary Board (FDB). Half of the FDB is comprised of senior municipal officials, and there is no guarantee that it will investigate Mosola at all.

And at worst, the FDB can only accuse him of financial misconduct.

The EFF, the DA’s erstwhile partner in Tshwane, flatly refused to vote on the agreement at all during Thursday’s council sitting.

In fact, they flatly refuse to vote on anything at all, since the DA refused to agree to give the EFF the mayoral seat in Tshwane.

"When they (the ANC or the DA) want our votes, we fold our arms," the EFF’s Moafrika Mabogwana told News24.

But, in theory, if the EFF had chosen to take a stance on the city manager’s settlement agreement, it would have said what it has said all along: more "processes" must be followed.

By this, the party means that the Auditor-General’s report, which slammed the contract as being in contravention of the Constitution, must first be tabled in the Municipal Public Accounts Committee in Council, before any action can be taken.

And the probe by the APC must be completed first. And the Bowmans draft report, the subject of a months-long legal dispute, must be tabled before council.

Only then, Mabogwana said, can any action be taken against Mosola.

'He's not off the hook'

Also asked if there would be any investigation into GladAfrica and Mosola’s role in it now that he is gone, mayoral spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane told News24 that she could only comment once the APC had made its recommendations.

The ANC was adamant that it had tried to remove Mosola by threatening to bring a vote of no confidence against him last Thursday morning before the council sitting. But ANC regional spokesperson Bafuze Yabo said that the party was pipped to the post by the city manager and the mayor, who negotiated the exit agreement before the ANC could table its motion.

He said the party was comforted by the fact that there was still a Hawks investigation into GladAfrica, and that members of his party had given investigators information.

Yabo said the party had to agree to the settlement agreement because the nature of Mosola’s contract with the city meant that he had to be paid out.

"Contracts create obligation," Yabo said, adding: "He’s not off the hook."

"We were only honouring the contract. It would have been a travesty of justice if he had stayed at the helm."

He also said the ANC had written to the AG about the matter.

Pressed for detail, Yabo said this happened at the "zenith" of the scandal, meaning that this was not a recent development, and said the party intended to follow up with the AG. He said the ANC would "consult with legal experts" to see "what are the possible avenues" to ensure that there would be accountability.

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Read more on:    gladafrica  |  moeketsi mosola  |  pretoria  |  tshwane  |  corruption  |  politics  |  governance
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