eThekwini ignores Manase deadline

2012-05-08 00:00

ETHEKWINI’S Metro bosses have yet to charge any of their senior managers implicated in a contentious forensic report, despite a strict deadline imposed by the province.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube gave eThekwini Municipality three months to resolve all disciplinary hearings arising from the findings of a forensic investigation by Manase and Associates.

Dube’s directive was made public on February 7 at a press conference in Durban, meaning the city should have wrapped up its work yesterday.

Some of those in the firing line are the local authority’s top brass, a number of whom remain in their jobs.

A statement issued yesterday by municipal manager Sbu Sithole said “consultations” had taken place with senior managers identified for their alleged part in the corruption uncovered by Manase.

They include treasurer Krish Kumar, procurement manager Derek Naidoo and geographic information and policy unit head Jacquie Subban.

But by yesterday neither Kumar nor Naidoo had even been charged. Subban has reportedly been on indefinite sick leave, which has hampered proceedings against her.

She could not be reached last night. The three have been accused of various instances of maladministration and of authorising irregular payments.

In three years, according the Auditor-General, eThekwini has amassed more than R2 billion in irregular spending.

Kumar said he had yet to see the full Manase report, which has been kept under lock and key amid clamour from opposition parties calling for its release. “There has been absolutely nothing in terms of charges [against me],” Kumar said.

Naidoo confirmed that he, too, was waiting for formal word from his employer. “I haven’t seen any report, I haven’t been favoured with any report and I am waiting for due process to be followed.”

Dube’s office could not be reached.

Municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said the MEC was being regularly updated. He denied the city had missed the deadline, saying “these processes have taken place within the required time frames”. He failed to comment further when it was pointed out the three months given to the city by Dube had come and gone.

Dube at her February press conference said the report had been tabled in council and various deadlines had been set based on Manase’s recommended courses of action.

The last of these directives was as follows: “All disciplinary issues must be instituted and finalised within a period of three months upon receipt of this report.”

The tardy showing by eThekwini Municipality will only add to the controversy already dogging the report, particularly the efforts by local and provincial government to suppress its publication. To date only a truncated version has been released.

Even implicated officials, including former city boss Mike Sutcliffe, have complained about being denied access to the complete report.

Manase and Associates was tasked by Dube to find evidence of fraud, corruption and maladministration across the municipality, stemming from years of allegations that top city officials were guilty of serious and widespread impropriety. It followed audits by the A-G and another forensic firm, Ngubane and Company, which first put the spotlight on the city’s financial dealings.

Democratic Alliance councillor Tex Collins again voiced his anger at what he said was the continued mishandling of the report.

Repeating a popular quote, he said: “They are treating us like mushrooms, keeping us in the dark and feeding us bulls**t.”

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