Corruption-accused eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza back at work
Corruption accused eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza is back at work despite a preliminary investigation finding overwhelming evidence against him, including elements of maladministration, financial misconduct and corruption.
Nzuza was suspended by the full eThekwini council six months ago for three months in relation to the appointment of Morar Incorporated to render professional services to the municipality.
Though the law only allows for a suspension of three months, Nzuza negotiated a further three months' leave with mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and this leave was endorsed by council.
However, this week his extension period ended and he reported for duty on Monday, as the investigation against him is yet to be completed. The interim report, which TimesLIVE has seen, probed 10 allegations of impropriety.
“That preliminary findings have revealed that eight of the allegations have substance in that there have been breaches of the VAT Act by Morar, thus a breach of the Local Government Municipal Finance Management Act by the accounting officer (Nzuza). There is overwhelming evidence against the city manager that there has been an element of maladministration and/or financial misconduct/corruption,” the report stated.
Findings on two other allegations are still pending, subject to the investigators being furnished with further documents.
On Wednesday ANC councillors overwhelmingly voted that disciplinary action cannot yet be taken against Nzuza, except in exceptional circumstances, given that the investigation is yet to be concluded.
The independent investigator, appointed by KwaZulu-Natal's treasury, has since been urged to conclude the investigation and provide Kaunda with a report with recommendations as soon as possible.
eThekwini DA leader Nicole Graham said Nzuza’s comeback was a clear indication that the ANC in eThekwini was not serious about resolving issues of fraud and corruption within the municipality.
However, she raised a bigger concern, which was that Nzuza gets to pick who takes over his duties, as he is not allowed to be involved in supply chain management processes.
“At Wednesday's council meeting, the DA motivated the council to formally delegate all SCM powers and functions from the city manager to the CFO, Krish Kumar, however this was voted down by the ANC. The mayor and the ANC seem to think it is a better idea to negotiate with Nzuza as to who should take over his duties. The idea that Nzuza and not the council would be entrusted with this responsibility is utterly absurd,” Graham said.
She added that while the municipality has no grounds left to not allow Nzuza back to work, the decision on the delegation of his powers should have been taken by the council, not Nzuza.
“The investigations that should have been completed have not been completed and there are no legal avenues left to keep Nzuza away from city hall. This matter should have received urgent attention and the council should have agreed to the DA's recommendation to keep Nzuza away from any tender or SCM process,” she added.
Nzuza is also facing corruption charges linked to alleged collusion between senior eThekwini officials and service providers in a controversial Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender debacle worth R430m. He is the 17th accused in the ongoing corruption case related to the awarding of work to contractors for a 2016 DSW tender.
He is out on R50,000 bail.