The City of Tshwane’s tender statistics for August last year, tabled at a municipal public accounts portfolio meeting last Friday, reflected this exorbitant amount spent on food, leaving members astonished.
Questions are being asked following the release of the supply chain management performance report now under scrutiny.
Municipal spokesman Lindela Mashigo said the city would be able to respond to questions about the matter on Wednesday as the clarification still had to be extracted from the system.
The questions related to how many people were required to work overtime to require food that cost millions a month, the job they were doing and what kind of food was supplied by the contracted service providers.
However, a report tabled at the portfolio committee meeting attended by all its members – six from the ANC, five DA and a sole representative of Cope – showed R15m was spent on takeaways.
Annexure A: Tender Statistics for August 2013 listed that five contractors were awarded the contract in 2012 by the City of Tshwane’s financial services department for supplying, delivering and off-loading standby food parcels to the amount of R15m.
The companies are Roswika Mobile Caterers, Manakanaka Trading and Projects, Lapeng Catering and Projects, Nakasanga Trading and Reyakopele Trading 96.
DA councillor and member of the portfolio committee Bronwyn Engelbrecht was the first to raise questions about the tender.
She then requested clarity about the term “standby” food parcels.
The city’s strategic executive head of service delivery co-ordinator, Dr Ndivho Lukhwareni, who had attended on behalf of municipal manager Jason Ngobeni, told members it was takeaway food for staff members working overtime.
Engelbrecht said: “It seems incomprehensible that this amount can be spent on takeaway food.
“Imagine the amount of takeaway food that can be bought for R15m. Somebody has clearly benefited from this tender.”
Engelbrecht said in a city where many homeless people lived without the bare necessities of water and electricity, it was totally unacceptable that R15m could be wasted on takeaways for staff who received additional remuneration for overtime work.
There was absolutely no justification to pay for takeaway food, she said.
The DA has requested a full disclosure report on this “takeaway party” and details on the department and the overtime staff who benefited from the expenditure.
Katlego Mathebe, Cope councillor and member of the portfolio committee, said a question was asked by the DA for clarification on the R15m. Mathebe said the explanation from the acting city manager that the food was for people who worked overtime at night and during emergency situations was not acceptable, nor justifiable.
“When people are called to work in the municipal offices or away from home, be it emergency or otherwise, it is not the responsibility of the city of provide food for them,” she said.
“How many people were working at night and what food did they really eat, taking into consideration the average price of takeaways at R55 a meal?
“And most important, what task was being done that required so many people who required that much food?”
Mathebe said the party demanded justification and a comparison with other periods to ascertain just how much in total the city was spending on takeaway food.
“I could be wrong, but my guess is that the food was for people doing electioneering, as we were heading towards elections,” added Mathebe, who, along with Tiyiselane Baban, are Cope’s representatives in the City of Tshwane.
Members of the portfolio committee are only expecting formal answers and disclosures when it reconvenes in January.