Dark says at City Hall

2013-04-12 00:00

THE official once hailed as the man who would rescue Pietermaritzburg from its financial woes is now the target of death threats.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi confirmed that threats had been made on his life, but declined to elaborate, saying the matter was in the hands of the state security agency.

The municipality was placed under administration in 2010 when it was on the brink of bankruptcy, and the then mayor and municipal manager were stripped of their executive powers.

Local Government MEC Nomusa Dube said at the time: “This radical decision by cabinet stems from the untenable situation which has seriously compromised the state of good governance and service delivery in the Msunduzi Municipality.”

She said the municipal council had condoned “irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure” as was evident from the Auditor-General’s report for the 2008/2009 financial year.

It is now alleged that Nkosi is being persecuted for trying to stem the tide of this “irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.

Allegations of cronyism and infighting between ANC factions in the Moses Mabhida region are said to be at the root of the death threats against Nkosi.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said the matter was receiving attention from Pietermaritzburg’s Crime Intelligence Unit, but “no criminal cases are being investigated at this stage”.

A recent report by the state security agency indicated that a attempt on Nkosi was “imminent”, a source told The Witness.

Nkosi is seen as being loyal to a particular ANC camp and reportedly refused to take orders from another.

It is alleged that Nkosi had also gone against the wishes of one of the city’s “political masters”.

He had apparently refused to withdraw charges against a certain municipal employee (whose name is known to The Witness) who was charged with maladministration.

This apparently led to the council paying R1,8 million for the bogus Inkosi Mlaba festival in 2009.

Nkosi also cancelled the Riotec Solutions meter-reading contract, which cost the municipality R800 000 a month.

He apparently refused to hire the workers who had been employed by Riotec after allegedly being ordered by a party official to do so.

It is claimed that the final straw was when, in an attempt to prevent cronyism, Nkosi recently outsourced the shortlisting of candidates for 179 advertised municipal vacancies.

This move was designed to prevent undue influence in the hiring process, by councillors, politicians and municipal officials.

This was said to have greatly angered some local politicians to the extent that a meeting was held at the ANC’s regional office last Friday to discuss Nkosi’s conduct and his future with the municipality.

ANC regional chairperson Alpha Shelembe described the death threats against Nkosi as “very unfortunate”.

However, he denied there was any political interference in the municipality.

“We have never interfered with any of the processes, including the recommendations of the turnaround by the current municipal leadership … we hope that the police will be able to properly handle the matter,” he said.

Shelembe and ANC regional secretary Super Zuma denied there were divisions within the regional ANC.

It is apparently not the first time that Nkosi’s life has been threatened. In July last year he reportedly received death threats after suspending 82 municipal security officers who had stormed the city hall demanding to speak to him because they were unhappy about their grading.

Nor is it the first time that infighting and political interference has threatened Pietermaritzburg's economic well-being.

In June 2011, former Msunduzi deputy mayor Mervyn Dirks told The Witness that the ANC Moses Mabhida region, and particularly Shelembe, the then treasurer, had played a major role in issuing instructions about council decisions.

He said he believed that had led to the near bankruptcy of the council.

Dirks’s exposé also blew the lid off the controversial R240 million smart meter contract that was never budgeted for.

He also claimed the bogus Nkosi Mlaba festival, which never took place, was a cover to pass on R1,8 million to the ANC’s Moses Mabhida regional executive committee.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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