BITOU's Democratic Alliance-run municipality in Plettenberg Bay has been cleared of allegations of corruption in the awarding of an IT tender to Dimension Data (Didata).

Western Cape local government MEC Anton Bredell, who was asked to investigate the matter after the African National Congress (ANC) claimed the R4,3m contract had been awarded illegally, said this week the awarding of the tender did not contravene the Municipal Finance Management Act or supply-chain regulations.

"There is also no information or evidence that supports allegations of corruption," he said.

The issue had been reported to the police by other parties but nothing had come of the accusations. It was, however, necessary for Bitou to improve its supply-chain management processing, Mr Bredell said, adding that the appointment of a permanent municipal manager was critical.

The town has been without a permanent manager since July last year, when incumbent Lonwabo Ngoqo was suspended pending disciplinary action.

Mr Ngoqo, who was found guilty of various financial mismanagement transgressions, was dismissed with immediate effect in February. Both acting municipal managers Duppie du Plessis and Thys Giliomee, seconded from the Western Cape government to help Bitou, have since taken up positions elsewhere. Mr Giliomee leaves at the end of this month.

Bitou faced a barrage of criticism after appointing Didata to stabilise its collapsing IT system last year. The ANC said the deal smacked of payback for Didata chairman Jeremy Ord, who owns a home in Plettenberg Bay and offered his support following a call from mayor Memory Booysen for residents to share their skills to get the municipality, which was facing financial constraints, back on track.

At the time, DA spokesman Jamie Turkington said core operations of the municipality would not have been possible if the council did not "urgently take action" before its contract with Lefatshe Technologies ended on December 31 last year.

Mr Booysen said last September that Lefatshe's Cipal system did not work, but Lefatshe denied the allegation and claimed Bitou created an artificial crisis. This week, the mayor said Mr Bredell's investigation had vindicated the municipality.

Garden Route Media