eThekwini probes 36 employees

2012-01-31 00:00

THIRTY-SIX eThekwini Metro employees, other state employees and councillors are the subject of 13 internal investigations into procurement fraud involving over R186 million.

This was revealed in the auditor-general’s (A-G) 2010/2011 report.

The province’s new head of the A-G’s office, Vanuja Maharaj, presented the report at a full council meeting yesterday. eThekwini received an unqualified audit with matters of concern, a key concern being irregular expenditure, which had risen from the last audit when it was over R532 million to R1,3 billion this financial year.

The irregular expenditure related mainly to irregular procedure in awarding contracts, such as using emergency procedures and not getting three quotes.

Maharaj said awarding of contracts to service providers in the service of the municipality or other state institutions, is contrary to municipal supply chain management (SCM) regulation 44.

The on-going investigations at eThekwini are in addition to a forensic investigation initiated last year by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube.

The provincial investigation is related to alleged irregularities at the municipality’s housing department.

Mayor James Nxumalo committed his council to addressing the matters of concern raised in the audit. He said there will be a focus on improving the procurement structure, policies and procedures.

Newly appointed city manager Sibusiso Sithole said an action plan to address audit findings had been implemented and non-compliance within the SCM system would not be tolerated.

Sithole also committed the municipality to addressing the problem of conflict of interest when staff, councillors and government officials do business with the municipality.

He said they were working with National Treasury in this regard.

The DA’s Mark McPherson said that while his party applauded the improvement, the municipality must not wait for the A-G’s report to pinpoint problems, but must have systems to monitor and act upon them when they occur.

Minority Front’s Patrick Pillay also called for urgent steps to sort out non-compliance with SCM regulations.

Since this was the first full council since Sithole’s appointment, parties took the opportunity to welcome him. IFP caucus leader Mduduzi Nkosi warned Sithole he was joining “a ship that faces extreme challenges which threaten to sink it”.

“You are joining a municipality which has the temerity to [allegedly] give one family a tender of up to R300 million while poverty and unemployment are the order of the day.

“This is a municipality not ashamed of enriching one family instead of slicing the cake such that it can feed about 10 families at least …”

Nkosi was alluding to the husband and wife team, the Mpisanes, whose performance on housing contracts is under investigation.

There was no indication at yesterday’s meeting when the provincial investigation and the 13 internal investigations will be completed.

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