Municipality’s coffers looted
Report shows wide-scale corruption under NFP
AFORENSIC investigation into fraud and corruption at Nongoma municipality in KwaZulu-Natal has unveiled alleged wide-scale plunder of resources at the municipality.
The report states that officials either turned a blind eye or actively participated in looting the municipality’s coffers.
The probe covered the period when the municipality was run by the National Freedom Party, which held the reins from 2011 until August last year.
The investigation, conducted by PwC and commissioned by the provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), found that some of the municipality’s funds were abused for the NFP’s benefit.
The recently appointed Nongoma mayor, Albert Mncwango, of the IFP, described the NFP’s rule at the municipality as “five years of plunder”. He said he had already started consultations with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those guilty of corruption were put behind bars.
Mncwango said disciplinary processes against implicated officials, including four directors who had been put on suspension, were under way.
“This is a very poor municipality with a zero base income. We solely rely on government grants, so such acts rob people of Nongoma of the meagre resources,” he said.
The Cogta investigation found how, in one instance, officials approved the payment of R90 000 for the procurement of 1 000 NFP T-shirts under the guise that these were for the Indigenous Games held in the town in October 2013.
One of the allegations probed relates to the awarding of a construction tender for a R14 million museum and cultural hub. Despite the contract being awarded in 2011, construction work had not begun.
Investigators have recommended that R5m be recovered from contractors. One of the companies involved in that contract had submitted false documents to the municipality, including a company credentials and Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading borrowed from other companies.
The investigations also found that four of the directors who were employed at the municipality did not fully meet the requirements of their positions.
The municipality converted the appointments from fixedterm to permanent appointments in April 2015.
It has further recommended that disciplinary action be taken against members of the shortlisting committee.
A shortfall of R213 935 was found at the municipality’s licensing department between July 2012 and June 2013. Abuse of the subsistence and travel allowance for officials was also probed, with the investigation revealing that in 2013, about 18 officials were booked into a particular guest house in Kokstad, despite the guest house not being existent at that time.
“The booking agent could not confirm the name of the place where the officials stayed… The individuals who were to be accommodated at the Manora Guest House could not remember where they were accommodated.”
In some instances, suppliers were paid for work or services not rendered. In one case, a company was paid R450 000 for perimeter fencing to a municipal pound, which was not erected.
Mncwango said there were other abuses that were not mentioned or uncovered in the report. These included allegations that the municipality was collecting some funds – yet these were not banked but, rather, were used to fund the operations of the NFP.
Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department was allowing the municipality space to implement the recommendations and that it would conduct an assessment in a few months.
He said that if MEC Nomusa Dube believed that the municipality had not properly dealt with the matter, she could take over the function of implementing the recommendations.
Njabulo Mlaba, a member of Parliament and of the NFP’s national working committee, said the party had not seen the report.
“We will not defend anyone who is guilty of wrongdoing. However, we must keep in mind that people are innocent until proved guilty. Those found guilty of transgressions must suffer the full consequences,” Mlaba said.
DA MPL Hlanganani Gumbi called on the IFP to act on the report.
“While the clean-up of Nongoma municipality is going to be messy, it is also a very important process if the abuse of power is to be stopped,” he said.
Such acts rob people of meagre resources