Rally cash probe to start soon

2009-07-30 00:00

AN investigation into the alleged irregular expenditure within the Msunduzi Municipality to fund an ANC rally in January is set to start soon.

In a letter to Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Willies Mchunu said recent press reports about the alleged misappropriation of more than R1 million of council funds “have been noted with disappointment” and have painted local government in a negative light.

“We have decided to appoint an independent investigator to investigate the matter and to report back on the findings. We trust that you will afford the investigator your full co-operation in the true spirit of co-operative governance,” said Mchunu in the letter.

Mchunu said the independent investigator would also be given the task of probing issues surrounding the controversial high-tech meter reading contract authorised by municipal manager Rob Haswell.

He said the municipality would soon be told of the details, terms of reference and the name of the investigator who would start shortly.

“An investigation such as this is intended to provide maximum transparency and to ensure that the principle of accountability is seen to be undertaken in the interests of all concerned,” concluded Mchunu.

At a full council sitting yesterday, DA councillor Bill Lambert said a special executive committee meeting was held on Tuesday to discuss the letter, and it revealed irregular and unauthorised expenditure.

“This is ratepayers’ money, Mr Speaker, and reflects a very serious breach of financial regulations. An investigation by the MEC has not yet begun but it remains the duty of this council to investigate the allegations,” he said.

Lambert cited a section of the municipal finance management regulations which state that a municipality must probe allegations of financial misconduct by its officials.

When Haswell was pushed for comment, he said the matter is under investigation by the MEC and that he is prohibited from discussing it publicly.

Speaker Alpha Shelembe said it is best to allow the MEC to conclude the investigation before the council decided what to do about the findings.

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