Sutcliffe tears into MEC

2012-02-09 00:00

THE gloves are off in eThekwini.

Former municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe has warned the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, that her probe “targeting certain individuals” would open up a Pandora’s box.

Sutcliffe accused Dube of never bringing to the municipality’s attention the fact that her sister, an employee at the metro, was doing business with the municipality.

The probe, ordered by Dube and carried out by forensic investigators Manase & Associates, found widespread evidence of maladminstration and corruption at the metro.

Fingered in the investigation were Sutcliffe, former mayor Obed Mlaba and other senior officials.

The MEC read out a summary of the report to a closed council meeting on Tuesday and held a press conference shortly afterwards.

Senior officials mentioned in the report who were contacted by The Witness on Tuesday said they could not comment because they had not seen the report.

Sutcliffe could not be reached for comment, but late yesterday he sent out a statement saying that he had been away and that he had seen nothing in writing from the report.

However, Sutcliffe added that he was most surprised at what was being said since the release of the probe.

He said he met Dube and the secretary of the ANC, Sihle Zikalala, on Monday night.

At that meeting the MEC went through the report she was to present to council on Tuesday.

At no point in going through the 20-odd issues had she made specific claims against him, except to say that he flouted the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act by failing to report an incident at the municipality on time.

Sutcliffe said he gave the MEC an explanation as to why this had not been done timeously.

He went on to say: “I indicated to MEC Dube my concern that the investigation was clearly targeting certain individuals and warned her against opening up a Pandora’s box.

“I specifically raised concerns that she had never brought to our attention the fact that her own sister was both an employee of ours and was doing business with the municipality, something which we had stopped after our own investigations.

“I am interested to know what Manase and Co. have said about this matter.”

He said there was an attempt to besmirch him and senior members of the municipality without putting issues before them for a response.

The former manager said this must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

He said Dube’s actions in this regard “smack of political opportunism at its worst”.

Dube was unavailable for comment. But her spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said he had been inundated with calls from journalists about Sutcliffe’s comments. He said the MEC’s attitude was that she did not want to be distracted from the real issues by “this sideshow”.

Mabaso said Dube had a relative employed by the municipality in a professional capacity. The person had been caught in the act of doing business with the council and Sutcliffe had said he had acted on the matter.

Mabaso said the MEC applauded the action taken by the municipality and was happy to report that there had been no interference on her part when this was done. When the incident happened, Dube was not involved in local government and was the ambassador in the Czech Republic.

Mayor James Nxumalo held a press conference yesterday, he added.

Mabaso and municipal manager Sbu Sithole said they were comfortable that they had followed procedures and were not worried about the threat of lawsuits brought by those fingered in the report.

This was in response to the question of whether those fingered in the report would sue as they had not been given a chance to give their side to the story.

Sithole said the complete Manase report, with supporting documents, was contained in 16 lever arch files. These were locked up and nobody at the municipality had sight of the full report.

Nxumalo said that at its next meeting on Tuesday the council’s executive committee would begin to interrogate the report and develop an approach about its response to the issues raised.

He said the report did not signal that the municipality was facing a crisis. He called on staff not to panic and to let the processes unfold, and he assured eThekwini residents that the municipality was stable.

 

 

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