R830 000 for corrupt manager

Makhado - Politicians in Limpopo's bankrupt Makhado municipality have signed a secret R830 000 golden-handshake deal with disgraced municipal manager Reuben Rambado.

The deal, which was leaked to media, will see Rambado pocket the equivalent of one year 's salary at a time when the small farming town cannot pay salaries to any of its other staff.

The council refused to comment on either the deal or looming bankruptcy, but leaked documents indicate that all mismanagement charges against Rambado will also be dropped in return for his silence.

Rambado will be expected to reciprocate by resigning and leaving the town, where he has been on suspension for gross misconduct and mismanagement after an investigation into his acceptance of a technically illegal R110 000 "peformance bonus" last year and his role in authorising a second set of questionable bonuses totalling R600 000 earlier this year.

It is unclear what will happen to other council officials implicated in the bonus scandal, and in a series of linked jobs-for-sex, jobs-for-sale, nepotism and corruption allegations.

Both Rambado and Makhado mayor Rhulani Nkuzana were constantly unavailable for comment, but Nkuzana has previously publicly said: "Rambado's image as an accounting officer and an individual is seriously tarnished".

Leaked council records meanwhile confirm that Rambado's settlement was tabled as a "confidential item" before Makhado's council last Wednesday.

Bound to secrecy

"We are bound to secrecy by council regulations. I can say, however, that the mayor has a lot of explaining to do," said UDM councillor Patson Mashau.

"What is going to happen to other councillors and officials implicated in the report? The mayor should resign if he doesn't have the guts to deal with corruption."

Not even the usually outspoken DA would discuss the deal.

"We cannot comment on the matter before Mayor Nkuzana publicly announces the settlement," explained DA councillor Marie Helm.

If approved, Rambado will have to repay council for a number of perks he enjoyed at taxpayer expense, including R325 600 still owed for his Land Rover; R11 300 for prepaid insurance for the vehicle; R22 000 for a residential stand he bought with council money; R15 000 he loaned to erect a fence and R3 800 for a second vehicle he bought from the municipality.

He may also have to pay an unspecified amount of income tax to the SA Revenue Service.

Makhado is meanwhile struggling to find R4m to pay its staff salaries this month, after blowing a R24m surplus on a string of grandiose economic development projects that have to date failed to deliver.

The spending spree included issuing all elected councillors with cellular telephones at taxpayer expense, extensive international travel and other vanity perks.

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