The Hawks have launched an investigation into the Covid-19 coronavirus budget irregularities at the Nkomazi Local Municipality in Mpumalanga where a manager appointed himself to be the sole administrator of the R27.3 million budget.
Hawks investigators conducted a search and seizure operation at the municipality’s offices in Malalane on Thursday.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, the investigative unit’s spokesperson, said the Hawks were accompanied by members from the Digital Forensic Laboratory and the local police’s Criminal Record Centre.
“The operation follows investigations in relation to the alleged Covid-19 procurement fraud. The appointment of contractors and service providers was inconsistent with the requisite procurement regulations. The monetary value involved is about R27 million,” Mulaudzi said.
No arrests have been made yet, he added.
Three weeks ago City Press reported how Nkomazi municipal manager, Dan Ngwenya, had left officials confused when he allegedly hogged the Covid-19 budget and appointed companies without a bidding process, in violation of the Municipal Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations for tenders above R200 000.
In transactions under R200 000 three quotations must be sourced from suppliers and service providers. In cases of emergencies when supply chain management processes cannot be followed, permission must be sought from the Treasury.
Insiders alleged that Ngwenya did not follow procurement procedures at all.
City Press has seen Ngwenya’s submission to a special council meeting on March 31 with his request to control the budget. However, the item was not tabled or deliberated on by council.
He wrote: “Municipal Finance Management Act circular 99, published on March 30 2020 stated that municipalities will be allowed to adjust the current municipal budget for the 2019/20 financial year to take into consideration emergency expenditures incurred between the date of the declaration for the national state of disaster and June 15 2020.”
The shocking part, said the sources, was that he must be responsible for all Covid-19 administrative issues.
“The municipal manager [must] be responsible for all the administrative issues of Covid-19, which is inclusive of the procurement of required personal protective equipment that will assist in the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus within Nkomazi,” he wrote.
The expenditure included the hiring of water trucks for R15 million to deliver water to communities, R12 million spent on purchasing masks and sanitisers as well as loud-hailing equipment for R350 000 to spread important messages about the epidemic.
The sources said the municipality could save money by buying its own water trucks. They were also concerned that no orders were issued and no invoices were scrutinised by relevant officials in relation to the Covid-19 procurement.
Mpumalanga Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mandla Msibi has ordered an investigation into the matter. Department spokesperson, George Mthethwa, did not respond to written questions sent to him last Tuesday about the progress of the investigation.