‘Time to face the music’ for city managers

2018-11-14 15:30
Boniwe Zulu, Sizwe Hadebe and Dr Ray Ngcobo.

Boniwe Zulu, Sizwe Hadebe and Dr Ray Ngcobo.

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Discipline them. 

That’s the recommendation from the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to Msunduzi regarding the actions of three senior managers — suspended City boss Sizwe Hadebe, general manager for community services Boniwe Zulu and former general manager for sustainable development Dr Ray Ngcobo who is now the municipal manager for uMgungundlovu — which allegedly cost the City millions of rands in its controversial contract with Khuselani Security and Risk Management (KSA).

On Tuesday an SIU team briefed council on the progress of its investigation into fraud, corruption and maladministration relating to the KSA contract.

According to a confidential report, which The Witness has seen, the SIU found evidence of misconduct against the three. They are accused of flouting the Municipal Systems Act, the Municipal Finance Management Act 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.

“Hadebe’s actions, whilst knowing full well that this entity had allegations of fraud levelled against it during its previous tenders as advised by the SIU in October 2017, caused the municipality to continue contracting with this service provider and at an enormous cost of approximately R9,4 million per month to the municipality,” read the document.

Zulu, in her capacity as acting City manager in April 2016, is accused of directing Ngcobo to finalise and sign a service level agreement between Msunduzi and KSA which irregularly extended and varied the rates of the contract the parties already had.

This, according to the SIU, rendered Zulu guilty of financial misconduct as her actions caused the municipality to incur irregular expenditure.

By facilitating the procurement “in a grossly negligent way”, Ngcobo is said to have allowed for KSA to be paid approximately R251,9 million between April 2016 and April 2018.

Two other City officials who were interviewed by the SIU have resigned but the unit also recommended that disciplinary action be taken against them on various allegations, including misleading the municipal manager.

In March the SIU approached the Pietermaritzburg­ high court in an attempt to get KSA to pay back R554,8 million lost by Msunduzi over its allegedly unlawful contracts or R158,9 million the company allegedly overcharged the City.

Criminal investigations on financial misconduct have also been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.

The final report is yet to be completed and submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

When contacted for comment Ngcobo said he signed the amended contract based on the advice from the City’s internal audit and supply chain units. He said there was also a legal opinion which said he could go ahead.

“At the time KSA was threatening to leave the City’s assets — which were worth R12 million — unguarded so I sought counsel because I was only a general manager for sustainable development and knew nothing about security contracts,” he said.

Ngcobo said he was aware that Msunduzi had written to his current boss, Mayor Thobekile Maphumulo, on the SIU’s investigation.

“I’ve also instructed my attorney so we will be approaching the high court with a view to review the SIU report because they did very shoddy work and their investigation was tainted by the shenanigans in Msunduzi.

“That’s why no one from finance and internal audit are implicated in the report even though supply chain is responsible for the awarding of contracts and not a single payment would have been made to KSA without the chief financial officer signing off on it.”

Ngcobo said former City head Mxolisi Nkosi appointed KSA but he was also not implicated in the SIU report.

Zulu said: “I’m surprised to get a call from the media talking to me in my personal capacity but I will wait for the municipality to advise me ...”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality
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