Stadium fraud accused walks

2011-11-07 14:47

The ANC in Mpumalanga is no longer pursuing fraud and corruption claims related to the R1.2 billion Fifa World Cup stadium and has dropped all charges against former Mbombela municipal manager Jacob Dladla.

The ANC’s Ehlanzeni secretary, Pat Ngomane, briefed the party’s caucus in Mbombela just before a special council meeting last Friday, and it was decided to vote in favour of a resolution to clear Dladla of the five misconduct charges that got him fired in March 2009.

The council also agreed to start negotiations with Dladla’s lawyers to settle the matter through a R1.5 million golden handshake.

The resolution comes a month after City Press reported that Mbombela mayor Cathy Dlamini had appointed magistrate Nomaswazi Shabangu to negotiate a payment package with Dladla’s legal team.

At the time Shabangu confirmed her involvement but could not be reached for comment this week.

But Dlamini’s spokesperson, Joseph Ngala, said: “I’m not sure how the magistrate comes in. Council took this resolution and approached Dladla’s legal representative, who has accepted the offer.”

Three councillors said Ngomane had instructed them to take the resolution to save the council further legal costs, apparently after Dladla applied to the Labour Court to have his dismissal taken on appeal by the municipality.

“(Ngomane) said the matter was urgent and Dladla had to be paid as soon as possible,” one councillor said.

Dlamini and speaker Jester Sidel did not attend the meeting and no reasons were given for their absence. The meeting was cleared of staff members when the matter of Dladla’s settlement was put to the vote.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) opposed the resolution but was outvoted by the majority ANC. Ngomane this week could not be drawn into discussing why he had met the ANC’s Mbombela caucus.

“It’s my responsibility to meet all ANC caucuses in the region, and when I do that it doesn’t mean it’s about one issue. However, the (regional executive committee) isn’t micro-managing councillors,” he said.

Ngala said the council could have paid about R13 million in legal costs if it had pursued the corruption case.

“Whether there was corruption or not is immaterial. We were standing to lose a lot of money if we didn’t settle,” Ngala said.

Some ANC members have interpreted the decision to settle with Dladla as a sign that the party’s provincial top brass were not interested in dealing with corruption in the construction of the stadium – or to continue the fight where late Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala left off.

Mohlala was assassinated at his KaNyamazane home in January 2009. Five alleged hitmen allegedly hired to assassinate Mohlala were arrested and will go on trial next year. A whistleblower’s affidavit, however, does not say who hired the assassins.

“It’s clear that the ANC doesn’t care about holding anyone accountable for this corruption,” said another councillor.

“The case is closed, and no one bothered to lay criminal charges about the corruption as the previous council had resolved while Mohlala was still alive. It also seems some people in the ANC don’t care about Mohlala’s death.”

Provincial South African Communist Party secretary Bonakele Majuba said: “We must defeat corruption no matter what it costs.

“Otherwise, most corrupt people will get off scot-free. The municipality is setting the wrong precedent for the future.”

Mpumalanga ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane said the province would comment after getting a report from the regional executive committee

 
 

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