KZN launches probe into city administration

2011-03-17 09:40

A wide-ranging forensic investigation into the embattled eThekwini Municipality after months of allegations of corruption and maladministration levelled against city manager Mike Sutcliffe, his administrative team and councillors, has been launched by KwaZulu-Natal’s Local Government Ministry.

The probe comes in the wake of a city appointed audit being suppressed by city officials and a damning auditor general’s report nailing Sutcliffe’s team for using emergency funding regulations to pay out more than R500 million in irregular expenditure for sub-standard low cost housing projects around the city.

Local government MEC Nomusa Dube said yesterday the earlier audits had provided prima facie evidence of maladministration and failure to abide by regulations around supply chain management and tender procedures and that her ministry had decided to step in and get to the bottom of the matter.

She new probe, which will be carried out by an experienced company of independent forensic auditors and would dovetail with separate investigations by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and other state agencies, would cover:

» Irregular expenditure caused by poor budget controls;

» Failure by city officials to follow supply chain management procedures around key infrastructure and housing projects;

» The failure of city official and councillors – including mayor Obed Mlaba – to disclose their financial interests;

Irregular tender procedures and awards;

» The illegal rental and sale of RDP houses;

» Irregularities in staff appointments and abuse of travel and other allowances;

» Fraudulent practices in the Durban Metropolitan Police; and

» Irregularities in the city’s development and planning department.

Dube said the probe would also take in any other information which came to light from the public and officials and said “serious steps’’ would be taken against any city official or councillor who refused to cooperate.

Earlier probes have been hampered by the refusal of key city officials to both cooperate and hand over documentation to investigators.

Dube said that while the city was “not collapsing’’ it was clear that “something wrong is taking place in the city’’.

She said when the probe was completed the city would be forced to take “decisive action and corrective measures’’.

Criminal charges would be laid against any official or councillor found guilty of corruption, fraud or maladministration, while civil action would be taken to recover city funds paid out illegally.She was unable to provide an exact timeframe for the probe to be completed, saying it would be retrospective and would “go as deep as it needs to go.”

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