eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza’s job hangs in the balance

01 April 2021 - 11:29
By zimasa matiwane AND Zimasa Matiwane
eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza during a previous appearance at the Durban commercial crimes court. File photo.
Image: Orrin Singh eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza during a previous appearance at the Durban commercial crimes court. File photo.

Sipho Nzuza’s future as eThekwini municipality city manager is hanging in the balance following a decision by council that the mayor discusses with him the implications of continuing to draw a salary while he is barred from performing his duties by a court of law. 

This follows a court ruling this week dismissing his application for relaxed bail conditions.

Nzuza is one of the accused in the R320m Durban Solid Waste (DSW) corruption and fraud matter. 

He was arrested in March last year and granted R50,000 bail with conditions that prohibited him from rendering his accounting officer duties to the city. 

His failure to petition the court for relaxed bail conditions has compelled the city to grapple with consequences of him drawing a salary while he does not work.

At an executive council meeting on Wednesday, a proposal was made for mayor Mxolisi Kaunda to “to engage him about the implications”.

A report on the matter by the executive committee, seen by TimesLIVE, states Nzuza: 

  • may not enter into premises at which witnesses are employed by the eThekwini municipality or be directly or indirectly involved in disciplinary processes of the municipality in respect of any other person until his criminal trial is concluded; 
  • is barred from participating in any tender process during the duration of his trial; 
  • cannot take part in any or all supply chain management processes irrespective of the amount of the tender award or value of the tender; and
  • is excluded from performing the functions of the accounting officers of the municipality until the criminal trial is concluded. 

The executive committee noted: “This gives rise to an undesirable and untenable position for the municipality wherein the accounting officer cannot perform his statutory functions because of the ruling.

“Further, Nzuza's special leave expires on March 31, which coincides with the expiry of the term of the acting city manager. To ensure any disruptions to the effective and efficient operation of the city manager’s office are kept to a minimum, it is important to have an acting municipal officer in place.”

The embattled city manager was given special leave until March 31 to afford him an opportunity to address his prohibitive bail conditions, which made it almost impossible for him to perform all his functions. 

His application for the court to relax his bail conditions and allow him to return to the city as a fully functional city manager was dismissed. 

While the city’s report indicates the man who held the fort for Nzuza is likely to continue acting, the decision had not been made.

Sipho Cele, previously deputy city manager for governance and international relations, was acting city manager but his term expired on Wednesday.

The executive committee’s concern, according to the report, is: “Given the developments that Nzuza has been expressly prohibited by the court to perform the functions of the job, there is a need to engage him about the implications thereof. These proposed engagements or consultations are necessitated by the fact that the municipality continues to pay his remuneration while he is unable to render services.”

The report mentioned that the city’s willingness to pay Nzuza’s salary previously was informed by the hope his bail woes will be fixed by the end of his special leave. 

“It has not been out of the ordinary to pay Nzuza’s salary without him rendering services because the municipality has been anticipating he would be able to resolve his prohibitive bail conditions and return to work. That is now impossible,” the report read. 

Nzuza’s co-accused include former mayor Zandile Gumede. His wife, Bagcinele, was recently named the 18th accused in the DSW corruption saga.