City of Cape Town says undisclosed additional Covid spending is not our business


City of Cape Town says undisclosed additional Covid spending is not our business

22 January 2021

The City of Cape Town and Western Cape Provincial Government have stonewalled efforts by GOOD Party provincial parliamentarian Brett Herron to extract the truth about tenders issued under cover of the Covid emergency.

The City made a big show of congratulating itself last year for issuing public reports on its Covid spending. But when Herron requested information relating to an alleged dodgy tender that was not included in the reports the City sent back a message – through MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell – that it “does not report to Mr Herron” on operational matters.

The tender in question, worth R1.23m, was awarded by the City’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department. 

The spending apparently related to undisclosed additional expenses on the City’s bungled project to corral homeless people during the initial stages of the pandemic. Spending on this project included an obscene +R40m for tent hire at the aborted Strandfontein internment camp. The R1.23m was evidently spent on services of some kind at Culemborg, a second major cost centre.

After GOOD received information about the undisclosed additional tender, Herron submitted a set of parliamentary questions for written reply to Bredell in November. Herron wanted to know by what process the tender was awarded, how the company was identified, and whether there was a requirement that the company had previously worked with homeless people.

It took Bredell nearly two months to come up with this non-reply: “The question was sent to the City for a response, the City’s response was as follows:’This is an operational matter, and the City does not report to Mr Herron concerning its changes to operational matters.'”

Herron said: “Neither the City nor Bredell appear to understand their obligations in terms of accountability. Keeping those responsible for public spending honest is part of my job description as an MPL, and those holding the purse strings are duty bound to account. This is not political jousting; it is the law.

“It would be regrettable if we have to seek the court’s assistance to compel the Mayor of Cape Town to disclose information the public is entitled to receive. If we are forced to go this route we will seek a personal costs order against the Mayor. Ratepayers should not have to pay for this childishness.”

Herron said he would first write to Bredell to ask for an explanation. If no further information was forthcoming he would approach the court.

“There’s an important principle at play, here,” Herron said. “When MECs and Ministers can get away with replies such as, ‘it’s none of your business’, to parliamentary questions the principle of accountability will be dead.”