Magwaza-Msibi denies snubbing Scopa meeting

2014-02-13 00:00

ZULULAND District Mayor Zanele Magwaza-Msibi yesterday lashed out at the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) for accusing her and two other senior officials of snubbing the committee meeting on Tuesday.

Magwaza-Msibi, who is also the National Freedom Party president, said the statements made by Scopa were political.

“I take exception to what they said, knowing that they never invited me,” she said in an interview with The Witness.

Magwaza-Msibi said she deserved respect as the mayor and that she would comply if Scopa wanted her to attend its meetings.

“In this instance, I was not invited,” she said.

The NFP leader was reacting to reports that officials from the district municipality were sent packing after she, in her capacity as mayor, municipal manager Johan de Klerk and chief finance officer Bhekisizwe Nkosi did not attend the meeting.

Instead the municipal public accounts committee chairperson, head of technical services and mayoral committee member responsible for infrastructure projects attended.

The meeting had been called to seek answers on the expenditure of funds allocated to the municipality for the provision of water, sanitation and district roads amid claims of under-expenditure by the district.

There were also claims that the district performs duties not within their competency.

Magwaza-Msibi told The Witness that the invitation from Scopa did not specify who should attend.

She also said the municipality had agreed to send the director for technical services, the councillor responsible for infrastructure projects and chairperson of MPAC.

“These are not junior representatives,” Magwaza-Msibi added.

She also said there would have been no reason for her to snub the meeting had she been invited.

The Scopa meeting was the first held this year and only the Zululand District Municipality was invited.

Under normal circumstances political and administrative heads of departments, parastatals and municipalities are required to personally attend meetings for accountability purposes.

Last year a joint sitting of the finance and co-operative governance and traditional affairs committees grudgingly continued with their meeting with Umzinyathi District Municipality when it transpired that the municipal manager and CFO attended without the mayor or another councillor.

But, sources close to the committee said Magwaza-Msibi helped herself by not attending because she would have been roasted by the ANC and IFP-dominated Scopa and dealt a blow in the NFP’s election campaign.

What compounds matters is that Scopa chairperson Sipho Nkosi has been deployed by the ANC to the municipal area as part of long-term strategy to take control of the council.

Magwaza-Msibi said it was curious that only Zululand District Municipality was called to appear before Scopa this week.

“You can read between the lines. It never happened before. They are panicking because of the way we work. They try all sorts of things,” said Magwaza-Msibi.

She insisted that her council was delivering services and obtained unqualified audit reports from the auditor-general.

“We spend budget allocation every financial year. We expedite our projects and as a result we get more budget allocations,” she said, adding that she would avail herself if she was required to attend.

But Nkosi shot back, saying, “We are not in a business of scoring cheap political points. We wanted to work together to resolve problems.”

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