uMngeni Municipality probe ‘very serious, despite its legality’

2009-06-10 00:00

“EFFORTS to have the forensic report into uMngeni Municipality declared illegal owing to a procedural error cannot detract from the seriousness of the allegations,” chairman of the Hilton Residents’ Association (HRA), Ric Busa, said yesterday. He was reacting to The Witness revealing details of the report, which the municipality has tried to keep under wraps

According to the municipality’s legal adviser, Matthew Francis, the recommendations of the forensic investigation could not be used because the information was gained through subpoenas.

Francis said the former MEC for Local Government, Mike Mabuyakhulu, who instituted the probe, did not have the authority to subpoena information.

However, sources claim the MEC expected the municipality to co-operate and it was staff who insisted on subpoenas before releasing information

Busa said a special meeting of the HRA committee will take place tomorrow to strategise on steps to be taken in reaction to these latest events

“Over the past year, endeavours have been made by the HRA to elicit the information contained in the forensic report from both the municipality and the office of the MEC for Local Government in KZN. In all instances we have been met with a stony silence, not even acknowledgement of receipt of registered letters,” Busa said.

He added that the financial performance of the municipality is of great concern to all ratepayers of uMngeni and it is with excited anticipation that response from official circles is awaited now that the allegations against senior officials of the municipality have been made public.

According to Busa, HRA will hold a public meeting shortly to discus the report.

DA caucus leader in the uMngeni Municipality, Pam Passmoor, said members of her party have worked very hard over the past two years to bring the alleged financial irregularities by the senior management of the municipality into the open.

Passmoor said the MEC gave specific instructions that the forensic report was to be tabled at a full council meeting open to the public, but on the instructions of the municipal manager it was presented as a confidential item.

“We are pleased that this report has now appeared in the public domain, which is where it should have been all along, and hope that the appropriate action will be taken by the MEC and the Local Government Department …” she added

IFP councillor Luke Mthembu said that at uMngeni Municipality it appears that the senior officials call the shots instead of the ANC councillors who are in the majority.

“Our speaker is a speaker in name only and I don’t understand why ANC councillors who are the majority party in the municipality were so willing to give [officials] such large salary increases when issues around the forensic investigation were not resolved” he said.

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