‘City manager had no mandate’

2014-03-01 00:00

CITY manager Sibusiso Sithole had no mandate to reach an out-of-court settlement on a multi-million-rand housing tender dispute with controversial businessperson Shauwn Mpisane’s Zikulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company.

This is especially after the city council had adopted a resolution mandating the city to use ratepayers’ funds to take on Mpisane’s company in court, Democratic Alliance (DA) eThekwini caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said yesterday.

“Sithole should have at least come back to the council for a mandate to reach an out-of-court settlement,” said Mncwango.

He was responding to a statement by Mayor James Nxumalo’s spokesperson Sthembiso Mshengu that there had been no council resolution directing the cancellation of the contract.

Mncwango said the municipality was trying to side-step the issue, and claimed it was not the first time the city manager had acted contrary to the resolutions of the city council.

The war of words between the DA and municipality erupted after Mncwango on Thursday said that Sithole should be suspended for taking a unilateral decision to pay Mpisane R288 million in December, a period during which she was facing various fraud and corruption charges (of which she has subsequently been acquitted).

Mshengu said in turn that Mncwango was distorting the facts and that the city had only paid R64,1 million to Zikulise for the Umlazi Part 5 housing project in December 2013.

This amount had been against invoices submitted for work completed by the company on the project to build 2 800 houses, for the period of September 2013 to December 2013, said Mshengu.

However, Mncwango questioned why there was then an item on the city’s February finance agenda relating to a R288 million contract payment to Zikulise — the agenda items would have related to payments made in December, he said, adding another occasion when Sithole had acted contrary to city council resolutions was when he decided to extend the lease of Virginia Airport on a month-to-month basis, when the city council had resolved to extend it for another 10 years.

Mcwango said the aim of the council resolution to take Mpisane on in court was to be able to rescind the tender because of poor workmanship and because Mpisane was facing fraud charges.

“eThekwini’s executive committee gave Sithole the green-light to challenge Mpisane legally,” he said.

Mncwangu said council resolutions are legally binding and Sithole knows this.

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