Admin staff next in line

2019-09-12 15:30

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The leadership have been dealt with, now get going on the officials.

Barely a month after the axing of Msunduzi Municipality’s leadership who were accused of turning a blind eye to rampant corruption there, the ANC has ordered the council’s new top brass to crack the whip on municipal employees implicated in graft.

Addressing the Pietermaritzburg business community during a meeting between members of the KZN cabinet and captains of industry in the city on Tuesday evening, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said last month’s removal of the Msunduzi political leadership was only the start of a broader clean-up operation.

“The intervention does not only stop at the political level, it will also affect the administrative wing of the municipality,” he said.

Zikalala is also the head of the provincial ANC leadership that axed former mayor Themba Njilo, his deputy Thobani Zuma and speaker Jabu Ngubo after accusing the troika of a failure to instil a culture of good governance at the municipality.

His address to the Pietermaritzburg business community took place against the backdrop of rumours that several of Msunduzi’s senior managers were going through disciplinary processes for acts of alleged corruption and maladministration committed during the term of the previous political leadership.

On Monday The Witness reported that senior officials within the municipality’s community services unit had been served with suspension notices for their alleged role in the controversial security contract between the municipality and private security company Khuselani Security Risk Management (KSA).

It has since emerged that the officials had been served with notices of intention to suspend.

According to the Special Investigative Unit that probed the controversial deal, in 2016 senior officials with the community services unit allegedly amended the guarding contract between the municipality and KSA, resulted in the municipality being overcharged by R150 million.

However, despite the fact that the SIU findings and those made by other arms of the state, including the auditor-general and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) had implicated several officials at the municipality, the findings were yet to be acted on.

Zikalala told business that failure by the previous municipal political leadership to act on the findings was one of the reasons that led to the removal of the Executive Committee led by Njilo.

“We are now entering a new chapter. One of the main tasks of the new Msunduzi political leadership would be to ensure the implementation of all the reports,” he said.

The Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Business Chamber (PMBC) CEO Melanie Veness welcomed the clean-up operation within the municipality’s administrative wing.

“As business we have been calling for accountability on those who took us to where we are today. We can’t be expected to trust the same people who took us to where we are today,” she said.

Speaking at the same event, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka said the ANC’s decision to remove Njilo, Zuma and Ngubo and replace them with the new leadership team of Mayor Mzi Thebolla, his deputy Inderjit Manilal and Speaker Eunice Majola was proof that the ANC was committed to fixing problems at the municipality.

“There is definitely a willingness. As we speak the new leadership is at work trying to address all the challenges at the municipality — we want to create an environment that is conducive for investment,” he said.

Despite being the province’s capital city, mismanagement within the Msunduzi Municipality saw the city being overtaken by Richards Bay, which is currently the second biggest KZN economic hub after eThekwini.

Zikalala said it is critical for the Msunduzi Municipality to function if the province is to grow the economy and create much-needed jobs.

“Msunduzi should become a metro by 2021.

“If that does not happen then it would mean that some people failed to do their jobs.”

Deputy Mayor Manilall Inderjit, who was standing in for Mayor Mzi Thebolla, told business that the days of corruption at the Msunduzi Municipality were now over.

“We all have a responsibility to adhere to good governance,” he said.

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