Joburg set to pay high fee to rebuild its tarnished image
How much is fixing Joburg's reputation worth? R145 000? R10 million? Five times that?
The City of Joburg is fed up with its bad reputation and is looking for a professional reputation management company to help clean up its image, and has received some expensive offers.
"Being the biggest municipality in South Africa, the city enjoys a lot of media attention. Therefore, a good reputation is key," the city document outlining the problem said.
"Group Communication and Tourism has therefore identified a need to obtain the services of a well-established reputation management company for the purpose of assisting the city manage and enhance its image and reputation."
Joburg has been strongly criticised by its residents over recent years for its shambolic billing system.
The city is prepared to pay for a good reputation fix.
"This contract exceeds R10 million," states one section of the document.
Bids closed last week and four contractors are interested, according to the city's list of the bids.
Meropa Communications has bid R145 464, Brightspark Communications bid R3.4m, Vuma Reputation Management asked for R29.3m and Barolong Group bid R55m.
The document said a good reputation would help to secure customer loyalty.
"The city understands that a good reputation cannot be created overnight. The city also understands... that communication must be based on a clearly defined strategy."
The services which the city wants include reputation management workshops, crisis management, "thought leadership", "key messaging", media training, management of media placing and press releases.
The company must show the city a list of at least five current clients, and show at least one reputation management contract it has completed. It must have experienced staff to deal with the city's account. City spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said the contract was still being adjudicated.
The Star asked how such spending was justified.
"The three-year tender caters for all city departments and municipal entities, and the amount stated serves as a ceiling for maximum spend. Suppliers are paid according to a project delivered," Modingoane said.
The Star asked if this was an attempt to whitewash over problems like slow delivery and billing problems.
"The city has never denied the challenges it faces and has continuously communicated actions taken to deal with these challenges.
"Moreover, the city has proactively initiated a process of establishing an ombudsman office," Modingoane said.