Mayor drops a bombshell

2016-12-08 10:11
Mayor Themba Njilo stunned councillors from both the opposition and ANC benches by forecasting that the city will not receive a clean audit for this 2015/16 financial year.

Mayor Themba Njilo stunned councillors from both the opposition and ANC benches by forecasting that the city will not receive a clean audit for this 2015/16 financial year. (File)

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The last Msunduzi full council sitting for 2016 was marred by a bombshell dropped by Mayor Themba Njilo.

Njilo stunned councillors from both the opposition and ANC benches by forecasting that the city will not receive a clean audit for this 2015/16 financial year. The revelation, which was described by opposition parties as a “public relations disaster” and by ANC councillors as a “slip of the tongue”, sent the ruling party councillors into a tail-spin.

Chief whip and liberation struggle stalwart Truman Magubane had to ask for a 10-minute ANC caucus after Speaker Jabu Ngubo had interjected while the mayor was still speaking on the matter.

While Njilo was delivering his report on the Back to Basics programme, he veered off the subject to tell the councillors about the visit of a team from Auditor-General (AG) Kimi Makwetu’s office. The team is doing financial audits for the previous financial year.

Msunduzi got its first clean audit in five years during the 2014/15 financial year, and judging by Njilo’s comment on his opinion, the city has regressed.

In the 2015/16 year, the municipality was subjected to three forensic investigations: one by the Presidential Special Investigating Unit, another by the provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department, and the third an internal investigation.

It is also the financial year in which award-winning municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi was suspended.

Njilo “warned” councillors “beforehand” about serious non-compliance issues that had been discovered by the office of the AG.

“It seems this council will be crucified over the deeds of others,” he said.

“Mayor, I want to check, are you sure that you want to go into details?” interjected Ngubo.

DA councillor Bill Lambert described Njilo’s revelation as “irresponsible”.

“For a public office bearer to announce in a full council, which is open to the public and the last one for the year, the [pre-emptive] findings of the auditor-general is irresponsible,” he said.

While the ANC councillors held a 10-minute caucus, Njilo became the butt of jokes as opposition councillors gathered in the corridors of City Hall.

“They are probably strangling him,” joked one opposition councillor.

An ANC councillor who asked not to be named said Njilo would have to explain himself to the regional leadership.

After the caucus meeting, ward 21 councillor Mtuza Mkhize said there was nothing new in what the mayor said.

“We all know about those irregularities. It was the ANC which proposed a probe because we wanted to get to the bottom of all those allegations,” he said.

Mkhize did not help the situation at all as he referred to the speaker,Ngubo, as “madam mayor” twice, resulting in opposition councillors suggesting the axe was hanging over the mayor’s head.

“I do not know if it was a slip of the tongue, but I will watch this space,” said Lambert.

Njilo left the sitting minutes after it had resumed from the ANC caucus meeting.

This was before he got his consolation prize, when he was praised by both Mkhize and Ngubo for building a house for an Edendale family out of his own pocket.

Read more on:    audits  |  pietermaritzburg

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