'Hlatshwayo must go'

2009-03-26 00:00

Knives are out for Msunduzi Municipality Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo. The IFP in the council yesterday called for Hlatshwayo to be removed as mayor on a motion of no confidence, citing the mayor's alleged extravagant expenditure of public funds on her office's projects, amounting to R7 million.

Speaking during the full council sitting, IFP councillor Candy Seymour said the expenditure had exhausted the budget by mid-year and that Hlatshwayo has refused to account for the expenditure on her January trip to the U.S.. "We can no longer accept or condone the extravagant and arrogant behaviour of the mayor. She is extravagant in that the budget set for mayoral projects in 2008/2009 budget was set at R3,16 million, but that was soon more than doubled to R7 million. Our mid-year budget review indicated that R6,97 million had already been spent, with more than R4 million spent in December 2008 alone," said Seymour.

Seymour said that Hlatshwayo gets her way supported mainly by Deputy Mayor Mervyn Dirks and executive committee (Exco) member Themba Zungu. Outlining Hlatshwayo's extravagance, Seymour said that the mayor spent R1,5 million on a Christmas party for the elderly in December. She said the party was attended by fewer than a thousand people.

"As if all these millions were not enough, the mayor's office requested a further R19,76 million for the remainder of the year. If this is approved, this would then add up to R26 million on mayoral projects for the year. As one ANC councillor said to me: 'The mayor's office is eating all the money', and what a feast it is," said Seymour.

Seymour's motion was supported by the DA after the party requested a caucus on the matter. The ANC rubbished Seymour's motion, saying that it was mere electioneering ahead of the April 22 elections. Dirks disputed the R19,76 million claimed by Seymour to have been requested by the mayor's office.

Councillor Henry Ngubane (ANC) said the motion was an election ploy and that he and other councillors have confidence in the mayor.

"I am shocked. I didn't know the IFP would stoop this low. This is electioneering. Such issues [funds for mayoral projects] were discussed at Exco and accepted. All of sudden because it's election time such things come up," said ANC councillor Pops Chetty.

Hlatshwayo told The Witness that Seymour's claims are personal attacks on her. She challenged Seymour to make the claims in public and questioned whether her allegations would stand in a court of law.

She said that she does not have control of the budget - that was municipal manager Rob Haswell's responsibility. "I do not just take money," said Hlatshwayo. "The mayoral projects are approved by both Exco and full council. The authority I have is on giving donations and I can only give a maximum of R500." She said she had reported her trip to the U.S. to Exco.

thandom@witness.co.za

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