Umgeni Water exec exits as anonymous 'whistleblower' retracts corruption claims

2017-07-02 14:02

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Durban - On the same day Umgeni Water chief executive Cyril Gamede, who had been suspended pending corruption allegations, left the utility, an anonymous letter exonerating him was sent to the board, its spokesperson said on Sunday.

"A mutual agreement was reached between the outgoing board of Umgeni Water and the suspended chief executive, Cyril Gamede, for Gamede to exit the organisation," said Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder.

Furthermore, on Friday, "on the day of negotiations between Gamede’s legal representatives and the board for Gamede’s exit, an anonymous email letter was sent to the board of Umgeni Water, withdrawing allegations made against the chief executive, two members of the board and certain employee."

Harichunder said that the person or people behind the letter also apologised for previous allegations they had made.

Earlier this month Gamede was suspended by the board pending an investigation into allegations of corruption.  The allegations were made in an anonymous email that was sent to various stakeholders including the Minister of Water and Sanitation, the public protector, provincial police commissioner and certain board members.

However, on Sunday, Harichunder said the apparent sender of the original email retracted their previous claims, saying they had been concerned about their own position as a "minority".

"These letters were sent in anger; I was angry because we felt that the transformation agenda pushed by the CEO has been excluding us as minorities that are not looked after," read an extract of the letter.

"I felt that the Executive Leadership was not pushing hard the Radical Economic Transformation and we couldn’t handle the pressure as the minority of this transformation. My motives could even have been racially motivated and for that I am ashamed and deeply remorseful," quoted Harichunder from the letter sent.

The sender then goes on to add, "I would also like to unconditionally withdraw my accusation against the CEO, Executives, the Organisation, Board Members, Suppliers, Stakeholders, and named parties that may have been negatively affected in any way."

Harichunder said that a forensic investigation being co-ordinated by the water and sanitation department would still go ahead – with the team expected to be appointed in the upcoming week.

The negotiations around Gamede’s exit was the last decision taken by the Board before it was dissolved as the Minister had not renewed the term of office of its current members.

He said the financial terms of Gamede’s exit settlement would remain confidential but pertained to arrangements related to the previous extension of Gamede’s contract until August 2019.

"This was to have been the subject of a legal dispute; however the Board, acting on legal advice, decided to settle on payment."

Harichunder explained that acting chief executive Msizi Cele would ensure the smooth running of the utility going forward.

"Customers are also assured that developments at Umgeni Water will not affect its ability to supply water, efficiently and cost effectively."

Read more on:    durban  |  corruption  |  water

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