City to face major probe

2018-05-04 16:00
Public Protector orders investigation into alleged corruption.

Public Protector orders investigation into alleged corruption. (File)

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The office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has commissioned an investigation into the allegations of fraud and corruption in Msunduzi.

This was revealed by the provincial head of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Thando Tubane on Thursday, who said the City is also being investigated by his department along with the Provincial Treasury.

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said Msunduzi is one of the 16 municipalities where Cogta is conducting forensic investigations in terms of section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act.

She announced this during the presentation of her department’s R1,6 billion budget for 2018/2019 in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.

The opposition parties, however, accused her of dragging her feet in dealing with the problems in Msunduzi.

IFP’s national chairperson Blessed Gwala said Msunduzi is in shambles and it has been reported as the “most dysfunctional municipality” in the province.

He said the City’s finances and increasing liabilities are worrying as there are also many consumers who do not pay for services.

“The KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu promised to announce measures to deal with allegations of corruption at Msunduzi Municipality but we have not heard anything about this matter. Who is being protected in the Msunduzi Municipality?” asked Gwala.

He said everyone knows that cadre deployment is used by the ANC to reward those who are loyal to the party by appointing them to government departments and institutions. He said this practice has, however, compromised some of the municipalities such as Msunduzi.

Gwala called for a skills audit in Msunduzi, saying the recent allegations of the manipulation of interview scores is a cause for concern and decisive action is urgently needed.

“Will the MEC be willing to look past politics and take action against these municipalities as they continue to paralyse the work of the council with a negative impact on service delivery?” he said.

DA MPL Hlanganani Gumbi said in Msunduzi Dube-Ncube has been part of the problem rather than the solution because she supported the appointment of the municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe despite initially advising against it.

“This is the same man who is caught up in a ‘jobs for pals’ scandal and who has presided over the municipality for two years while its audit opinion saw a significant regression and brought the province’s capital city to near bankruptcy. Where is the MEC now? She is silent,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by NFP MPL Njabulo Mlaba, who said mismanagement is rife in KZN municipalities such as Msunduzi. He said residents are becoming frustrated by the levels of poor service delivery when on the other hand there are reports of fraud and corruption amongst the officials.

Minority Front leader Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi called for an investigation into the City’s water and electricity billing system. She said the situation is dire and the residents feel helpless. “Senior staff members, and I’ve dealt with them, are highly incompetent and they are not able to perform their designated roles. They actually leave complaints to escalate,” she said.

Thakur-Rajbansi said there are also problems with the supply of water and electricity due to illegal connections and that negatively impacts on those who are paying for these services.

“Sooner or later no one will want to invest in the City of Choice because the infrastructure is unreliable. Furthermore there are very few staff who are able to complete tasks with respect to the [consumers’] queries,” she said.

ANC MPLs came to Dube-Ncube’s defence, saying her department, the Provincial Treasury and the office of the public protector are already investigating the allegations fraud and corruption that have been reported about Msunduzi.

“We are not denying that Msunduzi is encountering challenges and we are dealing with those. Even the portfolio committee has taken a resolution to go and support Msunduzi,” said ANC’s Amon Zondi.

Dube-Ncube said her department has never turned a blind eye to reports of maladministration.

“There is nothing collapsing in Msunduzi,” Dube-Ncube insisted.

She said those accused of wrongdoing have a right to a fair disciplinary process, hence the investigations.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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