High drama in uMzinyathi

2014-08-20 00:00

THE municipal manager (MM) and chief financial officer (CFO) of the uMzinyathi District Municipality have been suspended.

Ironically, this is the municipality that only two months ago was singled out by President Jacob Zuma as being among the best in the country. Zuma in his State of the Nation address in June said uMzinyathi showed consistency in good performance in audits, expenditure and service delivery. High drama followed the suspensions, with the council going after the MM, Mdu Mngomezulu, and CFO Sabatha Shongwe over the return of council laptops.

uMzinyathi mayor Reverend James Mthethwa said he could not go into reasons for the suspensions as the matter was sub judice. “The matter has to do with allegations of misconduct in terms of carrying out their responsibilities. They have been suspended for 21 days while an inquiry is carried out on whether the allegations are true or false,” Mthethwa said.

The mayor added that problems did arise when the officials allegedly went off with the laptops issued by council that were needed for the inquiry. He said after the MM had allegedly refused to hand over the laptop it had to be taken from him by force. Mngomezulu was allegedly charged for obstruction and appeared in court in Newcastle. He is due to appear again tomorrow (August 21). Mthethwa said the CFO was, “still on the run with the municipality’s laptop” and they haven’t been able to contact him as yet. Asked how this affected the municipality, Mthethwa said that it was precisely because of the praise they were being careful.

“It puts more pressure on us, especially the political leadership, to do everything in our power to run the municipality well. The decision to suspend the officials was unanimously taken by all political parties in the council. The council also said with one voice that there should be a forensic investigation into the allegations.”

Mngomezulu was contacted and he asked for questions to be e-mailed to him as he was driving. He said he would be getting home late last night and would respond. His response did not come through by the time of going to press. The Witness was unable to contact Shongwe.

• nalini@witness.co.za

SENIOR officials were suspended in nearby Umvoti (Greytown) as well.

In this case it was the CFO Martin Swanlow and manager for good governance Sakkie Archer, following a council meeting last week. The administrator running the Umvoti Municipality, Martin Sithole, said the suspensions related to an investigation into a surcharge regarding the municipal pension fund. He said the two officials were suspended while the investigation was on, which will focus on employment contracts and verify the terms of those contracts.

Swanlow was contacted, but did nor respond to phone calls and messages by the time of going to press. The Witness was unable to get hold of Archer.

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