Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau should have broken the logjam in the Pikitup strike by suspending MD Amanda Nair after a strong case against her was presented by the DA at today’s urgent extraordinary City Council meeting.
Tau let down the residents of the City when he rejected a call by DA, and the minority parties in Council, for a truly independent inquiry into serious allegations against Nair.
Instead Mayor Tau gave weak reasons for not acting against her, and offered no new insights to help councillors and residents deal with the five-week old strike.
The City is unable to act decisively because several leaders linked to Pikitup are compromised.
Corruption, Nepotism and Racism
Workers’ allegations against Nair are among the main reasons for the impasse, which has raised health concerns amid mounting piles of rotting garbage
DA Councillor, Andrew Cadman told Council that accusations against Nair included corruption, nepotism and racism.
Nair is accused of appointing friends to Pikitup positions. For example, Kelvin Ngwenya, the son of Nair’s domestic worker, was given an internship. While interns are typically paid about R2000 a month, Ngwenya was paid R9500. He was allegedly the only intern given a permanent appointment without being interviewed.
Nair is also accused of favouring the appointment of Indians to senior positions. The DA has names of individuals affected.
There is also evidence that Nair failed to comply with other recruitment and promotion procedures. Senior positions have been filled without any interview process being followed. Again, individuals are named. In addition, consultants have been loaded on the Pikitup system, so that they receive employee benefits, and are provided with tools of trade at Pikitup’s expense.
Tender irregularities are also alleged. Nair is accused of increasing the scope of the tender awarded to Aqua Plant by R40 million, despite a decision by the previous Pikitup Board not to do so because of allegations of fraud.
City’s Corporate Investigations Unit
Equally concerning is the decision by the City and the Pikitup Board not take appropriate action against Nair in relation to cellphones and tablet improperly issued to Nair. The City’s Corporate Investigations Unit recommended that disciplinary action be instituted against Mr Donovan Denyssen, General Manager: Infrastructure Enterprise, for “unofficially issuing cellphones and a tablet to Ms Nair without permission. .”, and that a case of theft be opened against him.
Mr Denyssen was dismissed. Nair, who allegedly used the items for her family and gave one of the cellphones to one of MMC Matshidiso Mfikoe’s children as a birthday present, was merely required to refund the City the value of the items.
The Corporate Investigations Unit curiously elected not to interview Nair and MMC Mfikoe regarding allegations that Denyssen made against them “due to the sensitivity of the investigation”.
Nair subsequently re-employed Denyssen, allegedly at an annual salary of R1.4 million, which was allegedly increased to R2.4 million within a few months.
Where was the Pikitup Board at this time? Bizarrely, the chair, Dr Trish Hanekom, allegedly deposed an affidavit stating that the cellphones had no value, while the City attributed a value of approximately R33 000 to them. If that is true, Dr Hanekom has committed perjury.
This leaves the City with a compromised Pikitup MD, a compromised board chair, and a compromised political head (MMC Mfikoe).
The allegations are precise and detailed. In law, they are sufficient to warrant the immediate suspension of Nair. There must be an inquiry, not by those who are compromised, but by independent persons.
Cllr Vasco da Gama
DA Johannesburg Caucus Leader
082 957 8581