Disciplinary action against uMgungundlovu District boss over Mandela Day Marathon

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uMgungundlovu District boss, Dr Ray Ngcobo.
uMgungundlovu District boss, Dr Ray Ngcobo.

uMgungundlovu District boss, Dr Ray Ngcobo, may be guilty of misconduct related to the alleged irregularities in the tenders for the Mandela Day Marathon.

This is according a Special investigative Unit (SIU) letter dated September 30 that was sent to Mayor Thobekile Maphumulo; the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Sipho Hlomuka and the director-general, Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize, which recommended that disciplinary action be instituted against Ngcobo.

The Witness previously reported on the SUI’s probe into the tenders for the marathon, former president Jacob Zuma’s December 2017 visit to iMpendle, the public consultation izimbizo for the district’s integrated development plan as well as the SA Local Government Games that were hosted by uMgungundlovu in Pietermaritzburg.

The contracts for the marathon, Zuma’s visit and izimbizo were reportedly awarded to a Hillcrest-based company, ProActive Public Relations and Events, which is said to be owned by Zamandulo Mlotshwa.

For the 2018 Salga Games, uMgungundlovu gave the contract to KwaMashu’s Inono Events Co-ordination CC, which is apparently owned by Thembinkosi Ngidi.

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“There were irregularities in his conduct during his tenure as the MM [municipal manager] with regard to the appointment of a service provider [ProActive] for the Mandela Marathon event for the period 2018 and 2019,” read the letter from the SUI’s chief national investigations officer, Leonard Lekgetho.

The SIU alleged that Ngcobo failed to comply with and contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), supply chain management policy, Treasury regulations “and other legal obligations relating to the employment”.

He was also accused of intentionally or negligently having caused loss of municipal property, prejudiced the administration or efficiency of the municipality, and contravened the code of conduct for municipal staff members as outlined in the Municipal Systems Act.

“How can you accuse the MM of a process that is totally delegated ... Does it mean that if a remote plumber misbehaves or a traffic cop misbehaves on the street, that the accounting officer must take responsibility? This is rubbish.”
Dr Ray Ngcobo

“It is respectfully submitted that Dr Ngcobo may be guilty of misconduct and should accordingly be subjected to disciplinary proceedings. In addition, we will be referring this matter to the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] for prosecution in terms of section 173 of the MFMA,” said Lekgetho.

He said the SIU would be sending a copy of the letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, but also wanted uMgungundlovu to inform them of the outcome of any disciplinary proceedings.

Opposition parties want the report

EFF councillor Khumbulani Nene accused Maphumulo of concealing the SIU letter to protect certain individuals, saying it had been a month since she received it but had not brought it to council.

“We are pretty sure that the findings will say the same thing that we’ve been saying as opposition parties that the municipal manager is or was not fit for the position since there was that cloud of corruption on his head about what he did in Msunduzi.”

He said the EFF was also losing confidence in Cogta because the department allegedly never took their concerns seriously when it objected to Ngcobo’s appointment in 2017.

Councillor Bukelani Zuma said the IFP was in favour of the SIU’s previous recommendations that Ngcobo be suspended to allow the investigation to go smoothly without him at the district.

He said the decision by Maphumulo not to present the latest SIU to council “is depriving councillors the opportunity to play their role on this matter, especially as it concerns the MM who is being employed by council”.

DA councillor Ross Strachan has also written to Hlomuka asking for his urgent intervention in getting the SIU letter presented to council.

Mayor Maphumulo told The Witness that said she was waiting for the SIU to inform her when they would be ready to come and present the complete report on its investigation to council.

She said at the moment all she had was a referral letter relating to the Mandela Day Marathon and had received nothing on the related matters.

Ngcobo hits back

On Wednesday district boss Ngcobo said he was not aware of any SIU report handed to Mayor Maphumulo nor had he received any communication about the report from her or the SIU.

He was under the impression that the SIU was not yet done with its probe and that all the affected parties would be given the right of reply as envisaged in the legislation.

“I am made to believe that the alleged letter handed to the mayor is being circulated without being either presented to council or to those that are implicated. This is very strange,” said Ngcobo.

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He said it was alleged that a group of officials had contravened the supply chain management (SCM) policy but none of the implicated individuals worked in that unit nor do they have anything to do with the procurement of goods and services.

“How can you accuse the MM of a process that is totally delegated to the CFO or SCM management or those that were part of the bid committees? Does it mean that if a remote plumber misbehaves or a traffic cop misbehaves on the street, that the accounting must take responsibility? This is rubbish,” he said.

Ngcobo said the letter in circulation also referred to annexures and attachments that were never provided. “If it is true that the alleged letter argues that there were no SCM procedures followed, for the Mandela Marathon in 2018, I was not around when the SCM processes for the 2018 Marathon were concluded.”

Ngcobo said the auditor-general’s office also did not find any irregularities relating to the marathon expenditure when they scrutinised uMgungundlovu’s financial statements.

For the 2019 event, he said the audited reports were presented to the mayor and council and there were no irregularities in the appointment of service providers. “There was no corruption in the 2019 Mandela Marathon and I was not around in 2017 when the procurement processes for the 2018 were concluded …”

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