Ray Ngcobo acts as city boss

2016-05-04 08:32
Dr Ray Ngcobo.

Dr Ray Ngcobo. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Not only has controversial deputy municipal manager Dr Ray Ngcobo not been suspended, but it has emerged that he was appointed acting municipal manager for last week.

Ngcobo has disciplinary charges pending against him, an issue highlighted last week when acting municipal manager Boniwe Zulu called for the adjournment of his disciplinary inquiry. The move was deemed illegal, and at that time it was unclear whether the hearing would continue last Thursday and Friday, as scheduled.

However, it was revealed this week that ­Ngcobo had not attended any disciplinary ­hearing last week, as he was appointed as acting municipal manager for the week.

A source close to the municipality said Zulu had meanwhile taken leave to deal with a family emergency. “This is bad governance at the ­highest level. The municipality has still not answered why he [Ngcobo] has not been suspended following the allegations against him, yet he is now the manager of the city,” said the source.

Ngcobo faces two charges of gross ­misconduct, two of gross dishonesty and one of gross negligence.

According to the charge sheet, which was leaked to The Witness two months ago, Ngcobo is accused of ordering furniture for the city’s Tourism Hub “without following the municipality’s supply chain management processes”.

He also allegedly paid close to R7 million to a company, ostensibly contracted to provide temporary housing for the Jika Joe project, but which had not delivered on the contract.

Allied to those two charges, Ngcobo is accused of inciting other municipal staff to engage in ­unprocedural and unlawful conduct, financial misconduct, and of improperly using his ­position and influence.

Ngcobo was also fingered as the subject of an investigation by the suspended head of the city’s internal audit committee, Petrus Mahlaba.

DA executive committee member Bill ­Lambert described the situation as “an absolute mess”.

“It is highly irregular for a man who is facing such an enormous disciplinary inquiry to be ­appointed as acting city manager. I believe it is unlawful,” he said.

Lambert lambasted Zulu, calling her a “part-time manager”. He alleged that Zulu often took “study leave”, at which time another deputy municipal manager stepped in in an acting capacity.

“I don’t like it at all. With all the challenges we are facing in the municipality, we cannot ­afford to have a part-time municipal manager,” he said.

Lambert added that the city would “soon be brought to its knees, and it will be worse than when the city was under administration”.

Msunduzi council Speaker Babu Baijoo said that in terms of good governance, council should operate in a way that does not create conflict.

He said the general view is that the council “must make sure good governance is practised”.

“Council must regularly review its actions and ensure morals and ethics are taken into account,” he said.

A local government expert not affiliated to Msunduzi municipality said although everyone is innocent until proven guilty, Ngcobo should not have been placed in the position of acting municipal manager for the week.

The expert, who would not be named, said Ngcobo should not have filled in for Zulu in terms of good governance.

“Ordinarily the council should have followed the procedures to suspend him. In cases like this, perception is critical and the public would not take well to Ngcobo as acting municipal manager, knowing he is facing a disciplinary hearing.”

The IFP’s Dolo Zondi said placing Ngcobo in the municipal manager’s position was ­“irregular”.

“He should have been suspended like [municipal manager] Mxolisi Nkosi was suspended. It is all very strange and I fail to understand how Ngcobo is placed in such a position,” he said.

Zondi said the IFP strongly believed Ngcobo should have been suspended, “and certainly not [been appointed] acting municipal manager”.

Zondi and Lambert queried why Ngcobo sat as municipal manager at last week’s full council meeting; Mayor Chris Ndlela said that Zulu was away due to a family emergency.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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