Dear Mr Makwetu
Alleged corruption to the tune of R21.8 million irregular and wasteful expenditure involving Mohlaleng Media and a seeming cover-up in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro
1. The above matter has reference and has been widely reported on in the media.
2. The United Democratic Movement (UDM) wishes to make you aware of claims of serious corruption in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (NMB Metro) and the seeming cover-up by the NMB Metro’s former executive mayor Mr Athol Trollip of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and city manager Mr Johann Mettler.
3. It pertains to the alleged corruption involving a company called Mohlaleng Media, to the tune of R21,8 million which was of course at the ratepayers’ expense.
4. To provide background, I refer you to an article posted on Independent Online (IOL) dated 7 September 2016 (https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/eastern-cape/trollip-to-freeze-contract-with-joburg-media-company-2065623) wherein it is reported that Mr Trollip stated his intention to have the contract (see item 6.1.2) with Mohlaleng Media frozen. He was quoted saying: “This administration will not tolerate irregular, wasteful or unnecessary expenditure, in any form, and any contract that is alleged to have facilitated any expenditure of this nature will be fully investigated and scrutinised”.
I also refer you to an article in Herald Live dated 24 May 2018 (https://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/politics/2018-05-24-just-in–bobani-launches-scathing-attack-against-city-boss/) wherein it was reported that Mr Trollip ‘…said the Mohlaleng matter has been handed over to the investigation authorities.”
5. The UDM has in its possession a whistle-blower’s dossier that details the period during which the alleged corrupt activities took place, together with the attending evidence. According to the information contained in the dossier, Mr Johann Mettler played a pivotal role in the suspected corruption which was allegedly covered-up by Mr Trollip.
6. The dossier speaks in detail, and gives timelines, of an internal forensic audit that started in September 2016, which unveiled allegations, amongst others, that:
6.1. Pre-2016 Municipal Elections:
6.1.1. Services rendered by some printing companies, during the previous term of council, included party political work (see right). During the internal forensic audit, Mr Mettler was confronted with the details of the irregular print jobs, but he failed to act thus neglecting to perform his fiduciary duties.
6.1.2. Mr Mettler signed an “addendum” to a non-existing contract with a company called Mohlaleng Media. This was deemed to be irregular and again Mr Mettler failed to perform his fiduciary duties.
6.1.3. Dr Crispian Olver the author of the book “How to Steal a City: The Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay” wanted to conduct a pre-election survey that would cost the ratepayers R11 million. Mr Mettler was aware of this, but did not disclose it to the internal audit, which was deemed an impairment of the internal investigation. Note: According to the dossier, Dr Olver had instigated the initial appointment of Mr Mettler as city manager.
6.1.4. Dr Olver was also responsible for the appointment of a legal firm, because of a mutual association during their “activism days” which flouted SCM practices with only limited involvement of the legal services directorate. Mr Mettler was/is still to account for such an irregular appointment.
6.1.5. Two “political appointments” were made in former mayor Danny Jordaan’s office, the cost of which would be carried by the aforementioned Mohlaleng Media, thus the rate payer. The dossier states that this was done by Dr Olver and Mr Mettler, knowing full well that these were “political appointments”.
6.2. Post-2016 Municipal Elections:
6.2.1. Mr Trollip and Mr Mettler had interfered with and used various delaying tactics to derail the internal forensic investigation into what the dossier asserts are unlawful contracts with Mohlaleng Media.
According to the whistle-blower, the internal forensic unit asked Mr Mettler a number of pointed questions in their investigation of the Mohlaleng deal. He however, knowing full well that he was a subject of the investigation, wrote a missive to the forensic unit instructing it to cease its investigation.
6.2.2. Several of the senior internal auditors and other staff members have been suspended and/fired for what appears to be spurious, but politically convenient, reasons. It is in fact alleged that these staff members were gotten rid of, precisely because of their knowledge of the corruption.
6.2.3. When the time came to appoint a new city manager, Mr Trollip had been aware of Mr Mettler’s alleged role in the suspected corruption involving Mohlaleng Media; yet he did not disclose this information at council. Mr Trollip persisted in protecting Mr Mettler and continued to champion his appointed as city manager, thus sweeping this material information under the carpet.
If there is merit in any of the allegations, it seems as if there is a major cover-up by the former Trollip administration.
7. Once the coalition government took over after the 2016 municipal elections, the UDM hoped that any and all corruption would be exposed and rooted out. Little did we know that our and the voters’ faith in the election promises made by the DA and Mr Trollip was misplaced.
As the record will attest, the UDM and our Cllr Bobani did our level best, over the years and in particular since the 2016 elections, to expose corruption in the NMB Metro but we were blocked and vilified at every turn.
8. Notwithstanding Mr Trollip’s stated intentions i.e. freezing the Mohlaleng Media’s [non-existing] contract and his comment that the matter was handed over to the “investigation authorities we still wonder who these mysterious “investigation authorities” are/were.
8.1. We however heard that, Mr Trollip handed over the investigation, not to the municipality’s internal watchdog, but to an outside outfit of his own choosing, which will naturally cost the municipality a lot of money.
Mr Trollip has failed to take the council, and indeed the citizens of the NMB Metro, into confidence to report on any progress made in the investigation. In fact, his comments in the media regarding the aforementioned investigation are extremely vague and without substance.
9. We herewith hand over this dossier, which tells a tale of a web of lies and suggest that your office establish the veracity of the whistle-blower’s claims, so that we can get to the bottom of this nest of alleged corruption and to act in the interest of the NMB Metro’s people.
10. Sir, it is our considered view that it would be vital to compare:
• the report of the firm that Mr Trollip appointed to investigate the matter;
• that of the NMB Metro’s internal audit team and
• any investigation you would undertake
to test the veracity of the whistle-blower’s claims and to establish whether the proverbial books have been cooked. The claim that Mr Trollip and Mr Mettler covered up the corruption should specifically be tested.
11. Finally, irrespective of whom would be found guilty or innocent, the UDM asks that the abovementioned claims to be thoroughly investigated. We believe that the innocent should be exonerated and that the guilty should, without fear nor favour, be made to answer for their misdeeds and that the necessary actions are taken against them.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement
CC: Mr Fikile Xasa, Eastern Cape MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs,
Cllr Mongameli Bobani, Executive Mayor of the NMB Metropolitan Municipal Council,
Cllr Buyelwa Mafaya, Speaker of the NMB Metropolitan Municipal Council.