‘Zero action’ over City boss

2018-05-17 17:55
Msunduzi Municipal Manager Sizwe Hadebe.

Msunduzi Municipal Manager Sizwe Hadebe. (File)

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What's the hold-up?

That’s what nine senior managers at Msunduzi and the DA are asking in light of the delays in investigating the numerous allegations levelled against the City boss, Sizwe Hadebe.

The managers have written to the Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Dr Zweli Mkhize, asking about the forensic investigation into what they term an alleged attempt by Hadebe to centralise power and turn the municipality into a breeding ground for corruption.

The group, who put their necks on the line in February by asking the provincial and national governments to intervene in the alleged corruption in Msunduzi, say no one from the provincial Cogta has contacted them following their complaints.

They are requesting administrative intervention and the immediate stoppage of the ensuing maladministration, which they say will assist in reversing Msunduzi’s disclaimer audit opinion.

In March, Mkhize asked MEC for Cogta Nomusa Dube-Ncube to investigate the allegations by the managers but according to them, that has not happened.

They said they are concerned that time is running out as the 90-day investigation, according to their interpretation of the Municipal Systems Act (MSA), is supposed to have been concluded by June 26.

The managers said they have read inThe Witness that KZN Cogta investigations are afoot; however, they are not privy to the intent and content of those investigations, despite having been first to raise concerns about administrative malfeasance in Msunduzi.

“As complainants we are deeply concerned that it appears there is a deliberate exclusion or marginalisation from ongoing investigation(s) reportedly taking place under the jurisdiction of KZN Cogta,” they said.

The managers are now threatening to invoke Section 106(5)(a) and (b) of the MSA if KZN Cogta does not contact them by the end of this month.

According to the act, where an MEC fails to conduct an investigation within 90 days, notwithstanding a request from the minister, the minister can conduct the probe and must send a report detailing the outcome of the inquiry to the president.

Meanwhile, the DA’s Msunduzi caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola has written to the Speaker, Jabu Ngubo, asking her to convene a special council meeting to discuss the allegations of misconduct levelled against Hadebe.

These include a probe into an audio recording where a senior official, believed to be Hadebe, was caught asking his subordinate to manipulate job interview scores as well as processes related to an engineering tender.

Last month Hadebe survived the DA’s proposal during a full council meeting to suspend him, as the ANC and ACDP were of the view that the City should get a legal opinion on the matter before instituting disciplinary action against him.

“The DA defines the allegations levelled against Hadebe as very serious hence we feel that an urgent council meeting will open room for robust debate and engagement on the topic ensuring that an independent investigation is instituted followed with the precautionary suspension of the city manager,” Majola said.

He said the DA is also concerned with the alleged lack of political will and urgency from Mayor Themba Njilo to deal with the matter.

“It is disturbing that at the last council meeting, Mayor Njilo defended Hadebe who has been at the centre of controversy for misusing his powers as an executive in the city,” said Majola.

He threatened that the DA will approach the court if Njilo continues to deny their request to deal with the allegations made against Hadebe.

“We cannot allow the municipality to disintegrate into squalor in the defence of a connected few.

“The rights of employees must be a priority, while service delivery to the residents of the city is also assured,” said Majola.

Njilo rejected the allegations made by the DA, saying he is still honouring his commitment to the councillors to deal with the matter.

“I’m not protecting anyone. My responsibility as mayor is to protect this municipality and we agreed as councillors that I should get a legal opinion and just yesterday [Tuesday] I was meeting with the legal team. As promised, the full report will be tabled in the next full council,” he said.

Attempts to get comment from Hadebe were unsuccessful.

KZN Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department already had a forensic investigation looking into several issues, including maladministration, which was under way when Mkhize wrote to Dube-Ncube.

He said the Provincial Treasury has been asked to assist with the inquiry and the office of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has commissioned its own probe into the allegations of fraud and corruption in Msunduzi.

“Before launching a new investigation there is a process that must be followed and that includes assessing that the allegations being raised are not merely duplicating what is already being investigated,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  sizwe hadebe

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