[EXCLUSIVE] City of CT to convene special meeting behind closed doors

The meeting has been set to discuss alleged tender irregularities related to major transport projects in the city.

City of Cape Town Council speaker Dirk Smit. Picture: Twitter/@Priyared

CAPE TOWN - In an unprecedented move, the City of Cape Town will convene a special full city council meeting on Tuesday, behind closed doors.

The meeting has been set to discuss alleged tender irregularities related to major transport projects in the city.

It’s understood this includes the Foreshore Freeway Project intended to decide on the future of the unfinished freeways that would alleviate traffic but also develop opportunities for affordable housing in the inner city.

It’s alleged that the tender process has been manipulated to favour a proposal preferred by a top city official.

Council speaker Dirk Smit has confirmed Tuesday’s special meeting but has declined to confirm what will be discussed.

He says he was requested to convene the meeting on instruction from the mayor in accordance with disciplinary regulations related to senior managers.

Eyewitness News understands that the council will be asked to decide whether to initiate disciplinary proceedings against two senior executives - the city’s transport and urban development commissioner Melissa Whitehead and Craig Kesson - the executive director in the mayor’s office.

Whitehead has been embroiled in a series of controversy in recent weeks over alleged tender irregularities involving the acquisition of electric buses for the city as well as nepotism claims related to appointments in her department.

Sources have told EWN that Democratic Alliance (DA) councillors pushed for the special meeting after Kesson blew the whistle on suspected corruption.

This comes after a panel considering the bids for the Foreshore Freeway Project was dissolved and a new bid evaluation committee was constituted, causing bidders to smell a rat.

In March, the city unveiled six proposals for the redevelopment of the unfinished bridges.

At the time, it said it would take four months to evaluate the proposals.

When contacted by EWN, Kesson and Whitehead both declined to respond directly to reports that they are facing disciplinary proceedings.

Responding on Whitehead’s behalf, the City of Cape Town would only confirm that a council meeting was scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

Sources have indicated that the city council will be asked to recommend that city manager Achmat Ebrahim be ordered to initiate a full investigation into the matter.

EWN has also learnt that councillors will also be asked to consider misconduct charges against Ebrahim for allegedly not informing them about the reconstituted bid evaluation panel.

Two weeks ago, Whitehead came under fire in a transport portfolio committee meeting for allegedly advantaging a Chinese company, BYD, for a R240 million tender to build electric buses.

It’s alleged she gave the company the inside track on the bid specifications before it was officially advertised.

She’s denied these claims.