Mavundla cracks the whip

2011-06-01 00:00

TWO senior officials were suspended and an investigation was instituted against the former mayor of Umvoti in Greytown within an hour of the swearing in yesterday of the new ANC mayor, Philani Godfrey Mavundla.

Umvoti chief financial officer Sipho Ndabandaba and supply chain manager Zakithi Magubane were suspended with immediate effect by the executive committee (Exco) at a meeting that Mavundla convened after his swearing in.

Ndabandaba was suspended for alleged financial irregularities that are thought to have taken place within the municipality since 2006.

Magubane’s suspension was due to a “damning internal audit report” compiled by the audit firm KPMG, which recommended that action be taken against her.

Although Magubane was suspended for three months more than a year ago, the previous administration was reluctant to take disciplinary action and she was returned to office.

An investigation was also ordered into transport costs of more than R800 000 that were allegedly run up by former mayor Petros Ngubane from September 2008 to May 2011.

Mavundla said, “An amount of R418 518 was used to purchase a Land Rover for the previous mayor in September 2008 and during the same period records show that more than R205 000 was claimed by the mayor for … allowance.

“Also, between July 2010 and May 2011, a combined sum of more than R83 000 for three vehicles — two 4x4s and a Toyota Corolla — was accumulated by the municipality. On top of that more than R80 000 was accumulated for the use of the Land Rover.

“We want an investigation to establish whether any irregularities took place regarding these high costs.”

Mavundla, a millionaire who is one of the foremost businessmen in the area, said he will no longer need the R700 000 mayoral car allowance as he can afford to use his own vehicles at his own cost.

Among other decisions taken by the Exco was to rescind signing powers for all officials and to revoke Internet banking.

A report was tabled that a council-issued credit card is being used by certain officials.

It was decided that the credit card must be cancelled as it is illegal for the municipality to have a credit card.

Other changes that will be implemented with immediate effect are the re-installation of telephone monitoring equipment; revisiting consultants’ contracts that the council has had for the past five years; the re-coding of the council building’s alarm system; and the replacement of the company in charge of security.

Private work by staff must stop or be declared and the council’s finances for the last five years will undergo a forensic audit.

Ahmed Shaik was elected speaker without incident, but chaos broke out in the chamber as the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party argued over the number of officials to constitute the Exco: the ANC wanted three members and the IFP insisted there should be four.

Councillor Mbangiseni Yengwa of the IFP argued that there should be four Exco members on the grounds that the margin of seats between the ANC and the IFP is too narrow at 10 and nine, respectively.

The ANC won the vote on this issue with the support from the National Freedom Party.

Mavundla was then elected mayor and the NFP’s Zamokwakhe Xaba was elected deputy mayor.

The IFP did not elect its Exco member, as it is still seeking legal opinion on the issue.

The three positions of mayor, deputy mayor and speaker were made full-time positions, an idea the IFP opposed.

Outside the meeting venue supporters of the ANC, IFP and NFP booed each other under the watchful eyes of a heavy police contingent.

Yengwa saved this Witness reporter from being manhandled by angry IFP supporters after he photographed them toyi-toying outside the council chambers.

The Witness tried unsuccessfully to contact the suspended officials and the former mayor for comment.

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