uMngeni financial officer calls inquiry ‘a DA plot’

2011-09-07 00:00

CHIEF financial officer at uMngeni Municipality, Bertus van der Merwe, came in for a drubbing on the last day of the commission of inquiry into the affairs of the municipality.

Evidence leader Paul Schumann said of Van der Merwe, “He goes around in circles and mentions things that aren’t necessarily true”.

The commission, which sat since June last year, wrapped up the inquiry yesterday.

Van der Merwe insisted that the commission was a waste of taxpayers’ money and a Democratic Alliance plot. He claimed that DA councillors Tim Lindsay-White and Pam Passmoor where not satisfied with the outcome of the Dobeyn investigation, instituted by the municipality, that largely cleared his name, so they took false evidence to the Department of Co-operative Governance, resulting in the commission.

Chairman Vuzi Khuzwayo asked Van der Merwe: “How would you have reacted faced with two conflicting reports?” Van der Merwe responded that there was no need for any investigations and that what happened was a witch-hunt from the start.

Khuzwayo suggested “if there is a cloud or allegations hanging over a municipality they must be cleared”.

Van der Merwe replied that the allegations are false and Khuzwayo asked how allegations can be declared false if they are not tested.

Former municipal manager Dumisani Vilakazi questioned the processes setting up the commission.

He said that on November 5, 2005 the premier announced in the provincial legislature that a proper investigation was to be carried out at uMngeni Municipality. However, he said from the correspondence he received from the municipality, the request for the investigation was only made on following day and received by the MEC on November 9.

The chairman asked Vilakazi what his point was. “When this commission commenced I asked you if you had any problems with participating, you said no … Assist me to understand what is the purpose of what you are saying.”

Vilakazi said he was recording his concern on the process followed.

Schumann in his summation said the bulk of the charges were directed at Van der Merwe as the CFO.

He said it was factually correct that Vilakazi was the accounting officer at the municipality and as such bears some vicarious responsibility, but the bulk of the charges were against Van der Merwe.

Khuzwayo thanked all those who participated and acknowledged that the time it took was due to space having to be found in the busy diaries of the several parties involved.

He said what matters is the need to reach finality and to do justice to every process. He said he is eager to make his final recommendations to the provincial government.

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