Durban has a problem – a R1.6-billion problem.
Ethekwini Municipality’s liberal use, or misuse, of a little-known clause of the Municipal Finance Management Act has sparked a probe by the Public Protector.
Thuli Madonsela’s office has cast a wide net, asking for records of all transactions under Section 36 of the act, dating back to 2004/05. But Durban’s leadership has ignored all requests for information despite all the files being deemed public documents.
Section 36 allows circumvention of normal supply chain management processes in an emergency – effectively allowing officials to hand any contract of any value to anyone of their choosing on the basis that it is “an emergency”.
While the policy was intended to facilitate, for example, helping families whose homes may have been destroyed by a fire, opposition parties claim Section 36 has been used to dish out lucrative multi-million-rand housing tenders to a select few at inflated prices.