Calls for probe of costs incurred in social cohesion event cancellation
THE SCRAMBLE is on to hold someone accountable for the thousands of rand splurged on hotel accommodation and transport for a social cohesion event that was cancelled at the last minute by the eThekwini municipality.
City manager Sipho Nzuza has instructed deputy city manager for emergency and community services Dr Musa Gumede to launch an investigation into the last-minute cancellation of the social cohesion conference.
Speaking to Independent Media, Nzuza said Thembinkosi Ngcobo, head of the parks, recreation and culture department, had gone against his instructions last week to postpone the conference.
Ngcobo postponed the conference on Monday morning as guest speakers, delegates and media representatives had already assembled at the Coastlands Hotel in uMhlanga waiting for the two-day conference to begin.
Nzuza said he was baffled that Ngcobo had defied the order despite having also been told by Gumede and Zama Sokhabase, chairperson of the city’s community services cluster, to postpone it last week.
“But he didn’t do that and that’s why the mayor was surprised that the conference was going ahead, and I had to say ‘no, we can’t do it as there are arrangements that still need to take place’,” Nzuza said.
He added that he had instructed Gumede to conduct an investigation to find out why Ngcobo had defied their instructions.
“It’s unnecessary and it was not even supposed to get to this point because he was instructed last week to advise everybody and stop whatever arrangement that was going to take place,” Nzuza said.
Nzuza said Sokhabase had been clear that the committee had preferred a different venue that could accommodate more people which had to be closer to the people instead of a hotel.
“The chairperson informed the head of parks that he had to postpone it and I, together with Dr Gumede, also told him to reschedule the conference,” said Nzuza.
There are growing calls, including from the DA’s eThekwini caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango, for Nzuza to open an investigation into how much of the R2.1 million budget allocated by the city had been used.
Maggie Govender, chairperson of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), said the committee would first have to get reports after the Auditor-General had audited the city’s books.
She said if there had been fruitless expenditure, they would pick it up through the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).
“We oversee the provincial department, so it would be Cogta that would have to address this. So, as Scopa in the province, we will not directly intervene in the municipality at this moment,” Govender said.
She added that Scopa had not been aware of the issue but that Nomusa Dube-Ncube, the MEC for Cogta, would probably request the report and then it would be given to the committee.
“We refer to the portfolio committee on Cogta if the MEC feels that there is something to report, and then we would go to the Auditor-General if there was something untoward,” Govender said.
When contacted for comment yesterday, Ngcobo said he had been requested not to engage the media directly on the matter.