ANC lambasts whistleblower

2015-04-22 00:00

AN ANC councillor from the Harry Gwala District Municipality has incurred the wrath of his party in going to extreme lengths to prevent what he describes as the wide-scale “looting of public funds”.

Instead of supporting Mandla ­Ngcobo’s efforts, the ANC threw the book at him, disciplining him for sowing division within the party and prompting his resignation as speaker at a council meeting in March.

Now Ngcobo has further broken ranks with the party and written to President Jacob Zuma, pleading for him to intervene in the matter.

Ngcobo, who refused to speak to News24, says in the letter that he raised his concerns before the council and even sought to obtain a high court order ­preventing further payment of a R22 million tender that almost doubled without reason.

Now he has taken his fight to the ­highest office, in a letter that was couriered to the Presidency last week. The letter, a copy of which was leaked to The Witness, details allegations of a myriad financial scandals besetting the district administration.

Ngcobo requests that Zuma proclaim an investigation into the dealings at the rural municipality by the graft-busting Special Investigations Unit.

“I hereby request and appeal to your esteemed office to intervene in stopping the looting of public funds in our municipality and its municipal entity, Sisonke Development Agency.

“I trust that our government is sincerely committed to fighting and eradicating corruption and maladministration in all government departments and municipalities … The Special Investigating Units and Tribunals Act 74 of 1996 empowers your office to proclaim investigations. The following information accompanied by documents is volunteered for that purpose,” Ngcobo writes.

The councillor cites what he insists are a number of cases of irregular expenditure.

“In the 2010/2011 financial year, R2,5 million was advanced to a service provider in breach of the Municipal ­Finance Management Act. The official who entered into this loan agreement had no authority from the council.

“In the 2011/2012 financial year a tender was awarded to a non-responsive service provider. The bid adjudication committee disregarded essential requirements in the bid document [and awarded the tender to a company which did not fulfill all the required criteria].

“There have been overpayments and fluctuation of monthly costs [to the security company] and an excess of payment of over R12 million,” Ngcobo said.

He had reported the matter to the ­National Treasury, whose response is included with the letter, which confirmed that the company had been overpaid, with the price of the contract bloating by over 158%.

Ngcobo further cites a financial probe into the municipality by a consultancy, which cost the taxpayer R10 million and found a slew of questionable payments made to service providers.

“The instances should have been attended to by both management and council. This has not happened because people fear for their careers, deployment and their lives. I have personally made sure that the executive committee knows about this and they have the documents. The chair of the Municipal Public Accounts Committee has been informed and as a member of the council I can tell with certainty that we are ineffective as an oversight structure.

“The National Treasury has provided a lot of information pointing out a number of wrong things. Currently there is a great effort to keep the report under wraps. Some people want to perpetuate ignorance, thereby protecting corruption,” Ngcobo wrote.

“Your action will go a long way to improving the image of the government and restoring public confidence … I hope my letter will be regarded as a civic duty and an act of patriotism to the country,” he says to the president.

Both the Presidency and municipality acknowledged receiving e-mails asking for comment on the matter, but neither responded further.

Concerns dismissed as ‘not urged’

Early last year, when Ngcobo’s suspicions were aroused, he raised the issue with the Harry Gwala executive committee and referred it to the Municipal Public Accounts Committee.

In March he is understood to have written a letter to the municipal manager, attempting to place the matter on the agenda, but the letter went unanswered.

He detailed his concerns again in July, sending an affidavit to the MECs for Finance and Co-operative Governance, the National Treasury, the Auditor-General and the minister of Co-operative Governance.

In the same month he approached the Pietermaritzburg high court to secure an urgent interdict against the payments, but the matter was dismissed on the basis that it was not urgent.

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