A senior Department of Economic Development official has been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing, Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba revealed on 21 July.
The suspension follows alleged misconduct relating to contracts and payments linked to the R1,3-billion 900km fibre broadband network project by the Metropolitan Trading Company (MTC), an entity within the City of Johannesburg. This deal was placed under investigation earlier this year after many of its proposed benefits have not been realised since the project started.
The investigation, which has not yet been made public, questioned why the initial agreement of the City paying an annual fee for the building and operation of the network, and taking ownership after 15 years, was not adhered to. It also questioned why it was bought out at a hefty R1,3 billion in 2015, seven years after the tender was awarded in 2008.
Mashaba said by February this year, the Metropolitan Trading Company still continued to function with no viable business plan.
“In his most recent report, the Auditor General also found that the performance of MTC could not be assessed due to the lack of a viable business plan from the entity.”
Mashaba said the suspended official is allegedly seen to be deliberately frustrating the investigation.
“The suspended official refused to allow investigators access to a number of devices which are believed to contain crucial information relating to the investigation.
“Further to the suspension, the City has obtained a court order to create mirror images of the official’s devices so as to preserve all information on the devices to ensure that potential key evidence relating to this investigation is not destroyed.”
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