By Anna Majavu
Makana municipality intends to suspend its Director of Engineering and Infrastructure Services, Asanda Gidana, over an R2.964 million payment for a water pump that was never delivered.
A confidential Council meeting held on 5 June 2023 was given documents that say Gidana pre-paid Manco Business Enterprises for the pump almost one year ago “without proper due diligence”. The total bill for the pump was R4.906 million, with R2.694 million as the prepayment. This new pump for the Howieson’s Poort Dam pump station, should have been delivered and installed in February 2023, but never was.
Gidana was asked in a letter from Municipal Manager Phumelelo Kate to give reasons why she should not be suspended. When contacted by Grocott’s Mail, Gidana said “please allow me not to comment as the matter is subjudice”. But the matter is not subjudice as it is not the subject of court proceedings.
Grocott’s Mail is in possession of the meeting documents, which say that “advanced/prepayment of goods and services before they are delivered is prohibited by the MFMA”.
In a 3 May 2023 letter from Kate to Gidana (included in the confidential documents), Kate writes that the payment is likely to give rise to a finding of “irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.
“Who initiated and motivated the issue of prepayment… and on what basis? What has been the historical/past performance of Manco in other contracts, it has been awarded? If there has been poor performance before, has the entity been reported to the relevant authorities for blacklisting? What paperwork was submitted to request the release of the prepayment?” Kate asks Gidana in the letter.
On 15 May 2023, Gidana responded that the prepayment was agreed to in a service-level agreement between Manco and the municipality. The municipality never signed the service level agreement, but the prepayment was made nevertheless at the request of Manco, Gidana says.
Manco had previously supplied and installed two pump sets at the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works and had replaced old asbestos pipes, and there were no defects in that work, Gidana added.
She wrote that a notice of default had been written to Manco, and that she recommended that the remaining funds be used to buy a new pump at a cost of R1.7m, and recondition the second motor at a cost of about R300 000.
In another letter included in the confidential documents, Makana Municipality’s Chief Financial Officer, Nomfundo Ntsangani, wrote that when the Engineering and Infrastructure Directorate asked the finance department to pay Manco for the pump, they did not disclose that this was a prepayment and the pump had not been delivered.
However, it is unclear how such a large payment was made without anyone in the municipality’s finance department ever checking if the pump had been installed or not.
The municipality is now cancelling the contract and trying to retrieve the money.
The municipality also alleges that Gidana did not complete a certificate in Municipal Financial management within 18 months of starting work at the municipality – an alleged breach of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The final allegation of misconduct is that Gidana caused the municipality to lose R4.5 million in Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) funding and R13 million in Water Services Infrastructure Grant (WSIG) funding which was withdrawn by the national government “because of poor planning and poor performance on projects”, the documents say.
The documents also say that Council should approve an independent investigator to investigate the alleged acts of misconduct.
(This story was updated on 15 June to include a direct quote from Ms Gidana, and to point out that the photo of the pump station was taken in March 2021 when the pump station had more pumps than it does today).