New twist in Tshwane's R12bn tender scandal
What did Solly Msimanga know, and when did he know it?
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has known for at least five months that there was a problem with the contract awarded to an engineering firm to project-manage all the city's infrastructure projects.
Msimanga insists that he and the mayoral committee were never told that the entire capital expenditure budget, worth up to R12bn over three years, would be given to a single company, GladAfrica, to manage.
But in March, municipal manager Moeketsi Mosola sent an e-mail to Marie-Louise Fourie, member of the mayoral committee (MMC) responsible for finance, telling her he was aware that she had launched a "secret" investigation of the GladAfrica contract.
Fourie was standing in at the time for Msimanga, who was overseas. He was copied on the e-mail.
"I have not been notified of any investigation against me with regards to [the] GladAfrica tender by the executive mayor," Mosola said.
"If it is true, I would like to put it formally on record that secret investigations without the approval of the executive mayor are illegal and contrary to the principles of natural justice and fairness. Such actions can only be interpreted as unjustified, unfair and a witch-hunt," he said.
In terms of the contract, GladAfrica consultants charge up to R4,000 an hour to manage the city's capital projects and have pocketed R250m in middleman commissions in just six months.
The fallout over the contract led to the suspension of Mosola by the City of Tshwane on Wednesday, but Msimanga is also on the back foot with separate motions of no confidence tabled against him by the ANC and the EFF.
Msimanga says he only learnt of the full extent of the GladAfrica rot after the Sunday Times broke the story three weeks ago.
Yesterday he said the city had been told only that a full project management unit had been contracted to manage all capital projects, but it was not told GladAfrica would be the sole project manager or how much it would make over the contracted period.
"I have never denied that we knew about the project management unit," Msimanga said. "But there was never a discussion around the figures or holding it down to one company. We were always told we are using a panel of 26 companies."
The embattled Tshwane mayor will be fighting for his political life on Thursday when the council debates the ANC motion of no confidence in him.
The Sunday Times understands that Msimanga, who does not see eye to eye with the party's Tshwane regional leader, Abel Tau, has fallen out with the black caucus of the DA in the council.
A DA insider with knowledge of the party in Tshwane said some caucus members had lost confidence in Msimanga to the extent that they might vote against him. He said party leaders in the province like John Moodey and Mike Moriarty had been trying to heal the divisions.
Moriarty, the DA provincial chair, said the party was sure Msimanga would survive the vote on Thursday. "We are absolutely certain that we can persuade councillors that Solly is the right guy to lead Tshwane," he said.
Should Msimanga be removed, however, it is believed that a faction of the DA caucus will try to nominate Mandla Nkomo, MMC for human settlements, to replace him. The DA's Gauteng leadership would oppose this, however.
Meanwhile, the ANC has reshuffled its own caucus in preparation for the motion of no confidence. Councillor George Matjila has been forced to resign and make way for party regional chair Kgoshi Maepa. This means Maepa will stand as the party's mayoral candidate if Msimanga is removed.
"I don't have any comment to make," Maepa said when contacted yesterday.
The EFF, with 25 councillors in the Tshwane council, remains kingmaker. The DA has 93 councillors and the ANC has gone down from 89 to 87 councillors - one died and another one is in prison. At least 108 votes are required to remove Msimanga.
The ANC is confident the EFF will vote with it and even support Maepa as mayor.