Municipal manager who ‘stole’ R120 000 to know fate

2012-12-12 13:46

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The municipal manager of Mpumalanga’s Ehlanzeni district will only know his fate for allegedly stealing R120 000 next month.

Ehlanzeni spokesperson Lucky Ngomane said the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) was still studying Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into various allegations against Advocate Hugh Mbatha.

“There will be a decision in a month or so. The council is still waiting for MPAC,” Ngomane said.

Madonsela found in her two-year investigation that Mbatha had instructed a finance official to transfer R165 500 into a credit card account of international relations deputy manager Roy Makwakwa in 2010 because the six-member delegation did not like the free Italian food served by their hosts.

Madonsela said Mbatha did not report the expenditure to council after they returned to Nelspruit. Instead, Mbatha shared R120 000 with three delegation members.

Madonsela added that Mbatha also bought a cellphone and other items, which she did not name in the report.

Mbatha’s conduct, Madonsela said, displayed a “reckless attitude” and amounted to maladministration.

She recommended that council lay theft charges against Mbatha and recover the money from the delegation members.

The Hawks are also investigating fraud and corruption allegations against Mbatha after a former Ehlanzeni employee laid charges.

Madonsela also found that:

» Mbatha took a delegation on a R1 million unauthorised trip to Brazil in March 2009 to prepare Nelspruit as a host city of the 2010 World Cup. Council did not approve the trip in advance and it was only reported five months later.

» He appointed Mculu Incorporated as the municipality’s legal advisors even though the firm did not have a valid tax certificate.

Mculu Incorporated is used by senior ANC politicians including Premier David Mabuza.

» Mbatha awarded a bursary to a volunteer in February 2010 and claimed he was unaware that the volunteer, who acted as his personal assistant, was not an employee.

Madonsela, however, vindicated Mbatha for appointing a company that was not recommended by the bid adjudication committee for the construction of the R205 million municipal offices.

Mbatha has evaded disciplinary action following two reports detailing corruption under his leadership over the past six years.

He also avoided answering fraud charges worth R925 000 when he applied for a permanent stay of prosecution two years ago.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) failed to convince the Mpumalanga government to probe Mbatha’s alleged misconduct.

It was only after Samwu approached the national corporative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) department that former Cogta MEC, Norman Mokoena, instituted a forensic investigation in 2010.

Mokoena’s intervention drew criticism because he did not suspend Mbatha and the final report was kept under wraps.

Madonsela investigated Mbatha after the Select Committee on Public Accounts passed Samwu’s dossier on to her office.

The municipal manager of Mpumalanga’s Ehlanzeni district will only know his fate for allegedly stealing R120 000 next month.

Ehlanzeni spokesperson Lucky Ngomane said the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) was still studying Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into various allegations against Advocate Hugh Mbatha.

“There will be a decision in a month or so. The council is still waiting for MPAC,” Ngomane said.

Madonsela found in her two-year investigation that Mbatha had instructed a finance official to transfer R165 500 into a credit card account of international relations deputy manager Roy Makwakwa in 2010 because the six-member delegation did not like the free Italian food served by their hosts.

Madonsela said Mbatha did not report the expenditure to council after they returned to Nelspruit. Instead, Mbatha shared R120 000 with three delegation members.

Madonsela added that Mbatha also bought a cellphone and other items, which she did not name in the report.

Mbatha’s conduct, Madonsela said, displayed a “reckless attitude” and amounted to maladministration.

She recommended that council lay theft charges against Mbatha and recover the money from the delegation members.

The Hawks are also investigating fraud and corruption allegations against Mbatha after a former Ehlanzeni employee laid charges.

Madonsela also found that:

» Mbatha took a delegation on a R1 million unauthorised trip to Brazil in March 2009 to prepare Nelspruit as a host city of the 2010 World Cup. Council did not approve the trip in advance and it was only reported five months later.

» He appointed Mculu Incorporated as the municipality’s legal advisors even though the firm did not have a valid tax certificate.

Mculu Incorporated is used by senior ANC politicians including Premier David Mabuza.

» Mbatha awarded a bursary to a volunteer in February 2010 and claimed he was unaware that the volunteer, who acted as his personal assistant, was not an employee.

Madonsela, however, vindicated Mbatha for appointing a company that was not recommended by the bid adjudication committee for the construction of the R205 million municipal offices.

Mbatha has evaded disciplinary action following two reports detailing corruption under his leadership over the past six years.

He also avoided answering fraud charges worth R925 000 when he applied for a permanent stay of prosecution two years ago.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) failed to convince the Mpumalanga government to probe Mbatha’s alleged misconduct.

It was only after Samwu approached the national corporative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) department that former Cogta MEC, Norman Mokoena, instituted a forensic investigation in 2010.

Mokoena’s intervention drew criticism because he did not suspend Mbatha and the final report was kept under wraps.

Madonsela investigated Mbatha after the Select Committee on Public Accounts passed Samwu’s dossier on to her office.

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