Probe into KZN municipality uncovers rampant corruption
The embattled Endumeni municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) — whose former mayor was at the centre of an alleged plot to kill the municipality’s speaker over the awarding of a tender — has been placed under administration.
This comes after a forensic report uncovered rampant corruption, including payment of donations to bogus religious organisations.
KZN cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube announced on Wednesday that the municipality was placed under administration following months of "infighting and paralysis" which had compromised service delivery.
The municipality has been embroiled in internal strife following the arrest of former mayor Sibongiseni Mbatha in May for allegedly planning an assassination plot against the municipal speaker Bongiwe Mbatha-Makhathini, who was thought to be an obstacle in the awarding of a tender.
The council was without a mayor and a speaker for some time after the IFP recalled both Mbatha and Mbatha-Makhathini.
Last month, Ward 3 IFP councillor Thobani Mlotshwa was controversially elected as mayor with the help of ANC councillors after defying his party’s directive not to attend that part of the council meeting.
The election happened after the ANC’s Lucky Khumalo was elected as speaker in the municipality which has been run by an IFP-led coalition with the DA and EFF.
Despite the ANC commanding only six seats in the 13-seat council, Khumalo received seven votes — meaning at least one vote would have come from within the ranks of the coalition.
Before the election of the new executive council, Dube-Ncube tabled a forensic investigation which uncovered "rampant corruption, including the payment of donations to individuals under the pretext that these were donations to religious organisations".
However, the forensic investigation found that these organisations were nonexistent. It also found that some payments were made to business entities to purchase equipment, in contravention of the municipality’s own policies. There were also fraudulent subsistence and travel claims, irregular appointments of service providers and excessive and irregular expenditure on security services.
"This forensic report is proof of our commitment to good and clean governance. We are committed to ensuring that our municipalities spend each and every rand on the real needs of the communities. We are fighting maladministration, fraud and corruption in municipalities," said Dube-Ncube.
She said the forensic investigation was sparked by allegations levelled against senior elected leaders and officials at the municipality.
Dube-Ncube said despite the council being given 21 days to process the report and advise her on remedial action, this had not happened, and the forensic report was said to be missing. Her department has supplied the municipality with another copy.
The intervention was expected to speed up the implementation of the forensic report and the opening of criminal cases against those implicated, said Dube-Ncube.
She said an administrator would be announced soon, whose job would be to implement a turnaround strategy for the municipality.