City official ‘wasted money’

2017-06-21 06:01
Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha.PHOTO: facebook

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha.PHOTO: facebook

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THE City’s spokesperson has been singled out for wasting almost R350 000 on the purchase of calendars and diaries — an amount that could have been used to build almost five low-cost houses for the poor.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha was the subject of a 2015 investigation by the Msunduzi internal audit committee where it was recommended she pay back the money and face serious disciplinary charges.

The Witness approached acting City manager Sizwe Hadebe for comment as he is the accounting officer and Mafumbatha’s manager, but no response was received at the time of going to print.

It is unclear at this time whether the committee’s recommendations had been followed through.

In the report compiled in July 2015 and leaked to The Witness recently, the committee lambasted Mafumbatha for having a “perpetual intention and delinquent (sic) that is hell bent, predetermined and premeditated to breach policies of the municipality” including the code of conduct for employees.

When approached for comment, Mafumbatha said she would not comment on the matter in her personal or professional capacity.

The report followed an investigation into the distribution of Msunduzi Municipality-branded calendars and diaries that the committee found “irregular” since the calendars and diaries were distributed at the end of May that year — five months into 2015.

In the report, the committee also found that penalties amounting to R59 000 were not levied on the printing company for late delivery, the order­ form did not reflect the quantities received, the inventory book did not reflect the quantities signed for by certain officials and a balance of 5 116 items were not distributed­ to employees and were left unaccounted for.

“She [Mafumbatha] had no authority to make her own decisions yet the contract was very clear and was not between her and the service provider but between the council and the service provider,” read the report, which suggested Mafumbatha took the decision to cancel penalties toward the printing company.

During the investigation, the committee interviewed the head of supply chain management, Dudu Ndlovu, who said she advised Mafumbatha to liaise with the city manager for logistics Sbu Mkhize but “she did not take heed of the advice”.

In an interview with Mkhize, which forms part of the investigation report, he said he explained the purchasing processes to Mafumbatha but “she completely ignored and side-lined him”.

The committee said when they tried contacting Mafumbatha to request a meeting, she told them that she was at a doctor’s surgery and would contact them the next day.

“When she was contacted on her cellular phone [the next day] we were unable to get hold of her,” read the report.

The committee said they were under the impression that she was already under suspension following two other disciplinary actions against her, but they were informed that she had applied for maternity leave during July 2015.

“The relevant officials who had to be involved in this contract by virtue of their functions have not painted a good picture about Thobeka Mafumbatha.

“She appeared as a manager that refused to be guided but at the same time she did not know the process and made wrong decisions throughout,” read one of the points in the committee’s report.

The committee said Mafumbatha could not justify her actions on the basis that she was new to the organisation and she had been strongly advised previously.

ACCORDING to the report, this incident follows a similar incident where Mafumbatha purchased goods and then claimed she was not familiar with the supply chain management policy and procedures.

“Mafumbatha was strongly advised that before she embarks on any supply chain management processes ... she should either seek advice from the head of supply chain management or the internal audit unit if she was not sure,” read the report.

It was reported that Mafumbatha approved transactions related to both the Umvithi Young Achievers and Indodo awards ceremonies and these transactions were done in breach of municipal policies and were deemed “fraudulent because of collusive bidding”.

The report also stated that again in 2014, Mafumbatha refused guidance from the head of supply chain management “who should have had a bigger role in the transaction she was initiating”. — Witness Reporter.

In October 2015, The Witness reported on the mystery that surrounded Mafumbatha’s suspension.

At the time, attempts to establish why Mafumbatha faced a disciplinary hearing earlier that year were dodged by the municipality.

Whether she was receiving a salary from the municipality during that time could also not be confirmed.

At that time, The Witness was told that suspensions ran for three months, with the suspended employee returning to work thereafter to find out the outcome of the disciplinary process.

“This case of Thobeka is quite strange because she did not return to work after three months. No one knows why she was suspended in the first place, and when or if she will ever return to work,” said a source in 2015.

Mafumbatha was appointed as the spokesperson of the municipality in May 2014, shortly after former spokesperson Brian Zuma joined Maritzburg United as the team’s PR manager.


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