Ramokgopa fingered in city probe

The probe into mismanagement in the

Tshwane municipality could come back to haunt Deputy Minister of Health Gwen

Ramokgopa.

The investigation by advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, which centred on the

conduct of suspended Tshwane city manager Kiba

­Kekana, was conducted and concluded while Ramokgopa was still mayor.

Ntsebeza’s report suggests that there is prima facie evidence to

back a litany of allegations of misconduct and maladministration against Kekana.

The Tshwane council ordered the investigation in October last year,

after the capital city reportedly experienced a

severe financial crisis and could not pay its debts.

It was forced to take out a bank overdraft of R1.2?billion.

One of the report’s damning findings is that the municipality

incurred unauthorised expenditure of R477?million under Kekana.

The investigation also found there was no proof that ­Kekana had

advised the council about the municipality’s “financial ill health” which led to

its failing to pay electricity utility Eskom and Magalies Water Services last

year.

Ntsebeza also found that the ­appointment of some officials to

managerial positions flouted ­local government regulations, and said there was a

need for further investigations to be carried out into how the ­appointments

were made.

The investigation found that Kekana had violated the law by paying

Ramokgopa a housing ­allowance while she lived in

a council-owned residence; and by also paying her a cellphone allowance when the

municipality had already footed the bill for her phone calls.

Ntsebeza recommended that President Jacob Zuma should be asked

“very urgently” to order a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into the allegations of maladministration in

Tshwane.

Zuma has since ordered the SIU investigation.

The scathing report, which Ramokgopa

kept under wraps, was submitted to the municipality in June.

It has emerged, however, that Ramokgopa’s mayoral committee considered giving Kekana a

golden handshake of R2.5 million to buy out the remainder of his contract and

thus avoid taking disciplinary action against him.

In a report submitted at her special mayoral committee meeting in

September, Ramokgopa, who had a fallout with

Ntsebeza over the scope of his investigation, said that prosecuting Kekana would

be a drawn-out process that could force the municipality to foot the bill for

his pay beyond the expiry date of his employment contract in 2012.

She also suggested that Ntsebeza’s findings were “inconclusive” and

said the “prolonged (disciplinary) process might lead to instability in the

administration of the institution and provision of service delivery”.

“There is no guarantee or certainty in regard to the outcome of the

(disciplinary) process.

“The employee may or (may) not be found guilty. If found guilty, he

may appeal against the decision and commit the municipality to a protracted

litigation exercise including through courts of law,” she said in her

report.

Ramokgopa has since been ­succeeded

by her nephew, Sputla Ramokgopa, as Tshwane mayor.

Yesterday Ramokgopa defended herself,

saying that she had “never improperly benefited from public resources”.

“I want to put it on record that the conditions for public use of

the mayoral residence was a council resolution that preceded my tenure, and that

a year before the council formally reviewed its resolution, as mayor I had

already ­taken steps to limit the use of the residence to official purposes

only, based on discussions with the ­office of the auditor-general,” ­Ramokgopa said.

Tshwane Metro spokesperson Console Tleane refused to answer any

questions about the allegations against the suspended city manager or about Ramokgopa’s handling of the saga.

He said a report that “addresses all the questions” would be tabled

before the council on Thursday.

Kekana refused to comment, saying that he had not seen Ntsebeza’s

report.

“I doubt if I will get a copy, because I was never given the terms

of reference for Ntsebeza’s investigation and was never interviewed by him,” he

said.


 
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