City of Johannesburg official fired for awarding tenders to own company

Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg has fired a senior official over not declaring ownership of three companies the city did business with, and for trying to influence a tender, a strategic adviser said on Friday.

"The official engaged in private business without prior consent from the City, breached our code of ethics, influenced procurement decisions for their own benefit and acted against the interests of the City," said Andrew Stewart, strategic adviser in the office of the Member of the Mayoral Committee in the Department of Economic Development.

Stewart said that Mayor Herman Mashaba was standing up to corruption and expected employees to adhere to the highest ethical norms and standards.

He told News24 the previous administration, led by Parks Tau, had conducted a business search on senior managers to see if they were directors or owners of companies. Those results were compared with their declarations of business interests. 

This employee, who was not named because the city is deciding whether to take legal action, had not declared outside business interests in three companies.

It also emerged that these companies were awarded contracts to maintain city-owned property.

In addition, it was alleged that the employee tried to "unduly" influence the tender process for a consultancy in a separate charge.

An investigation was launched, but stalled because the employee made counter-claims and a  personality clash" emerged.

"Under the previous administration it was in 'file 13'," said Stewart, to imply it was never dealt with.

The employee was charged with dishonesty, not divulging outside business interests and trying to unduly influence contracts, found guilty, and fired.

Stewart said the department is consulting with lawyers to see whether criminal charges were feasible. Because the maintenance work was actually done, it is not sure whether it could recover any money.

He clarified that the official did not award the contracts to him/herself, but that a panel made the decision.

The city also wanted further information on how the panel made its decision and whether the panel knew of the employee's link to the companies.

In August last year, the Hawks arrested eight city officials for alleged rebate fraud amounting to about R2.4m.