It’s not true, says Haswell

2009-07-07 00:00

ALTHOUGH there is evidence that links senior officials of the Msunduzi Municipality to the alleged channelling of more than R1 million of council funds towards an ANC rally, no one who is allegedly implicated is prepared to give a full statement.

The Witness reported yesterday that municipal manager Rob Haswell, speaker Alpha Shelembe and deputy municipal manager Roy Bridgmohan are alleged to have bypassed standard procurement procedures in order to secure R1 065 119 to fund an ANC rally that took place on January 18.

Haswell would not respond yesterday to questions forwarded to him by The Witness.

“Given that the matter is now the subject of several investigations, I will not comment in detail at this stage.

“However, I want to reassure ratepayers that the allegations pertaining to me are untrue,” he said.

The Witness was unable to get comment from Shelembe and Bridgmohan — they had both switched off their cellphones.

Democratic Alliance MP Mark Steele, who was instrumental in the releasing of the documents, told The Witness he had met both the provincial auditor-general and his deputy yesterday, and had been given an undertaking that the matter would be probed as a matter of urgency.

“We believe the municipality’s investigation should take the form of a full forensic audit, conducted by an independent team or agency.

“The DA will use the fin­dings of that audit to inform a decision as to whether or not a criminal charge should be laid with the police,” said Steele in a media statement.

Regional ANC secretary Super Zuma distanced himself from allegations that he had approached the municipal officials and asked them to raise funds for the ANC rally.

He said the allegations were “unsubstantiated” and said they had sourced the funds for the rally from the provincial ANC which had money set aside just for rallies.

Provincial ANC secretary Sihle Zikalala said the party will respond only when the matter has been investigated.

The allegations have made headlines country-wide and The Witness has learnt that national intervention is on the cards.

When The Witness contacted Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Willies Mchunu yesterday, he said it is difficult for him to comment because he had only just read the documents.

The matter would be investigated from today, said Mchunu.

Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo said the onus is on the MEC to commission an investigation as there is not much council could do until that process is complete.

“We can’t, as local government, investigate ourselves and we need the provincial structure to do that,” she said.

Hlatshwayo said council is in recess for the next two weeks, but she hopes that once the recess is over, the investigation will be finalised.

“After the MEC’s decision, council can then decide what to do.

If this is not resolved before then, we will have to appoint external auditors,” Hlatshwayo said.

We can’t as local government investigate ourselves and we need the provincial structure to do that.

— Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo

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