Johannesburg Mayor Orders Probe After Report of Irregular Fleet Tender

(Bloomberg) -- Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said he had initiated a probe into allegations that his party, the Democratic Alliance, and the Economic Freedom Fighters, on whose support it relies to control South Africa’s biggest city, unduly benefited from vehicle fleet contracts worth 1 billion rand ($72.8 million).

A report by the AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism alleges that the DA-led Johannesburg metro awarded vehicle tenders to a company linked to the EFF, its leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu.

“I take the claims made by AmaBhungane seriously and have commissioned an independent forensic investigation,” Mashaba said in a statement Thursday.

The Africa National Congress, which rules nationally, says the DA initially granted the contracts to Avis Budget Group Inc. but then reconsidered and awarded them to Afrirent, a company allegedly used as a slush fund for the EFF, to secure an agreement that enables it retain control of Johannesburg, according to 702 Talk Radio. The ANC, which lost the city to the opposition in 2016 municipal elections, urged graft ombudsman Busisiwe Mkhwebane to also probe the allegations.

The scandal is the latest setback to the EFF’s attempts to portray itself as a corruption watchdog. Recent reports have implicated Malema and Shivambu in benefiting from funds looted from the failed VBS Mutual Bank. They have denied wrongdoing.

EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi didn’t immediately respond to calls and a text message seeking comment.

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