City acts on top officials

2019-09-10 16:02

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As the winds of change sweep through the troubled Msunduzi Municipality, several senior officials are facing disciplinary action for alleged acts of misconduct committed during the term of the recently axed political top brass.

Reliable sources within Msunduzi on Monday told The Witness that at least four officials there have been served with suspension notices. This is in connection with the controversial contract between Msunduzi and Khuselani Security and Risk Management (KSA) that cost ratepayers millions of rands.

“Some of the officials have already collected their letters of suspension at administrator Sibusiso Sithole’s office while others, who have been told to go and collect their letters, are playing hide and seek with the administrator,” a source within the municipality said.

The municipality’s head of security, Kwenza Khumalo, is amongst those facing disciplinary processes while community safety general manager for community services Boniwe Zulu has already been brought before a disciplinary committee.

“The disciplinary committee has finalised the matter and now it is just a matter of it communicating the verdict to her,” the source said.

Contacted for comment, Zulu said she did not understand why the media was showing interest in the matter as is it was “old news”.

“The process started in 2017 and as far as I’m concerned it’s not news at all,” she said.

While Khumalo confirmed that he had received a call informing him to collect a “letter”, he said he was not aware of any disciplinary processes being initiated against him. “I received the call on Friday but could not collect the letter as I was out of town. I honestly do not know what the letter is all about. You are the first person to tell me that it is a notice of suspension,” he said.

Disciplinary steps against the senior officials follow the 2017 Special Investigative Unit (SIU) recommendation that they should be charged for their role in the KSA tender, which resulted in the municipality being overcharged by more than R150 million.

While it is not yet clear what specific charges the officials who are being served with suspension letters were likely to face, the SIU in its report on the KSA contract had accused them of a number of breaches.

According to the SIU report tabled in council late last year, the officials were guilty of flouting the Municipal Systems Act, the Municipal Finance Management Act and as well as the City’s and National Treasury’s supply chain policies by approving contract extensions, payments and variation rates that were not in compliance with the regulations.

Zulu, who in April 2016 was acting City manager, had been accused of directing subordinates to finalise and sign a service level agreement between Msunduzi and KSA which irregularly extended and varied the rates in the contract the parties already had.

The fact that the municipality is only acting three years after the SIU’s recommendation strengthens the perception that the officials fingered in the SIU report had enjoyed the protection of the municipality’s political leadership that was removed by the ANC provincial leadership a month ago.

The ANC provincial leadership, which replaced former mayor Themba Njilo with Mzi Thebolla, ex-deputy mayor Thobani Zuma with Inderjit Manilal and ex-speaker Jabu Ngubo with Eunice Majola, has made it clear that action would be taken against officials implicated in wrongdoing at the municipality.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha declined to confirm whether the municipality had instituted disciplinary steps against the officials. “I wouldn’t know anything about that as those are matters between employer and employee,” she said.

The municipality is instituting disciplinary steps against the officials a few days after it reached an agreement with former municipal manager, Sizwe Hadebe.

Hadebe, who had been on suspension since last year, resigned with immediate effect last week as part of a settlement that saw him receive a three-month salary payment from the City.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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