Of nearly R400 million in irregular or unauthorised expenditure allegedly chalked-up by the Harry Gwala District Municipality over nearly two years, R116,310 was spent on Nando’s and KFC.
The figures are contained in a confidential report on an investigation into the district municipality’s expenditure for the 2009 to 2011 financial period.
The report, compiled by Midnight Star Consulting, is included as an addendum in a letter that axed Municipal Speaker Mandla Ngcobo wrote to President Jacob Zuma three weeks ago.
‘Looting of public funds’
In the missive, Ngcobo urged him to proclaim a Special Investigation Unit probe into what he described as the “looting of public funds” in the district.
Ngcobo is understood to have raised his concerns before the council and also sought a high court order preventing further payment of a R22 million tender that almost doubled without reason.
Instead of supporting Ngcobo’s efforts, the ANC threw the book at him, disciplining him for sowing division within the party and prompting his resignation as speaker at a council meeting in March.
He refused to comment when contacted by News24.
The confidential report, a copy of which News24 has seen, details nearly R400m in expenditure that was either irregular, unauthorised or deemed fruitless and wasteful by the independent auditors.
They found that ranks of municipal officials had contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act on authorising payments without following proper protocol.
“Fourteen payments valued at R75 623.10 were made by the Sisonke District Municipality [now known as Harry Gwala District Municipality] to Nando’s outlets in the province of KZN in respect of meals. These transactions are in violation of Section 217 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, PPPFA [Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act] and the MFMA [Municipal Finance Management Act] Supply Chain Management regulations that no competitive bidding process was followed.”
This equates to over 2 800 peri-peri quarter chicken portions at R26.90 each.
“Nine transactions valued at R40 686.90 were in respect of Kentucky Fried Chicken meals bought by the municipality throughout the KZN province…”
These transactions, with a value equivalent to over 1 600 Streetwise 2 meals at R24.90 each, were too in violation of competitive bidding legislation.
Other irregular expenses
The money spent on fast food was highlighted in the report, along with millions of rands irregularly spent on accommodation and travel.
Auditors also honed in on R10 176 096.01 paid to Tricircle Hardware.
“Payments of the aforementioned amount just on material only were made to Tricircle Hardware without going through a competitive bidding process of any kind. We found thirteen instances where transactions of more than R200 000 were entered into in violation of procurement legislation…These transactions are a grave concern and raise suspicions,” the report reads.
The auditors recommended that R396 379 876.96 be condoned and written off as irrecoverable.
“We recommend that an effective document management system should be implemented and that relevant staff members are held accountable to the cases where payment vouchers and bid documents, which should have been retained but are found missing.”
“The council should consider further investigation into transactions relating to material and stock bought by the municipality in 2010/2011,” it reads.
The Harry Gwala District Municipality said it was aware that Midnight was appointed to investigate irregular expenditure, and that the investigation report was presented to council and it was condoned.
“Senior managers that were tasked to implement the recommendations of the report are no longer with the employ of the municipality; therefore, we are not empowered [to take legal action against staff],” the municipality’s spokesperson Ndabezitha Tenza said.