Government: Axe looms for job-hopping fraudsters

2008-10-23 00:00

Errant municipal officials who cause havoc in one municipality and then job-hop to another will no longer be able to do so as a register of their names will be kept by the KZN Local Government Department.

MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu told a media briefing yesterday that he has seen officials leave a trail of disaster in one municipality, resign before they can be charged or disciplined, then go on to be destructive in another municipality.

He said municipalities are duty-bound to inform his department whenever they employ a senior or Section 57 manager. This, he added, is when the register will be checked.

“In this way the department can perform its oversight function.”

“Rotten potatoes” cannot be tolerated in municipalities, Mabuyakhulu said.

He added that the register will not be for public scrutiny, but for internal use by the department.

Asked why individuals implicated in Msunduzi Municipality’s forensic audit have continued to work in senior posts for over a year without the recommended sanctions being carried out, the MEC said the matter is being looked into.

He said he could not go into detail as to if and when action will be taken because he would have to consult the team working on the issue of non-compliance.

“If we find that the municipality has not complied and has no intention of carrying out the recommendations of the forensic investigation, we will do the work for them without fear or favour.

“We will not look at which political party heads the municipality, but take power and ensure that the recommendations are carried out,” he said.

Asked why a forensic report on uMngeni Municipality that was given to speaker Suraya Pillay more than three months ago has still not been tabled before a full council, Mabuyakhulu confirmed that he has received a letter asking for an extension.

Mabuyakhulu reiterated that in all instances where municipalities are slow to act on their forensic reports, the department will step in and “do what we don’t like doing and do as a last resort, to step in and intefere”.

He said his department has commissioned 36 forensic investigations since 2004. In 25 cases, action has been taken, while 11 investigations are still in progress.

During the last three years, 27 municipal officials have been suspended for corruption-related issues, including fraud, misconduct, theft and misappropriation of funds.

Mabuyakhulu said there have also been criminal prosecutions and civil recovery.

Ten officials have been criminally charged, while others have been fired or have resigned.

More than R10 million has been recovered from errant officials through civil claims.

Mabuyakhulu said only one official has challenged his dismissal in the Labour Court.

The findings were in the official’s favour, but the official has since resigned.

He added that generally across the province, suspended officials tend to resign before the conclusion of their cases, which is why a register is necessary.

nalini@witness.co.za

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