Charges and responses at the Joburg council
City employees write about the way in which they’ve been treated
TWO senior City of Joburg employees who were implicated in corruption within City Power and the Department of Economic Development have responded to allegations against them.
Sicelo Xulu, the former City Power managing director, whose contract was terminated earlier this month, said he took offence at having been implicated in the media as being corrupt or involved in misconduct.
“I refute these disparaging allegations and have no doubt that if afforded the opportunity to provide my input, any misconception that I am corrupt will be dispelled,” he said.
On the other hand, the other employee said he was taking legal action against the city as there were numerous irregularities in his suspension.
The employee, a senior official from the Department of Economic Development, was suspended this Friday pending a disciplinary hearing into allegations of misconduct relating to contracts and payments linked to the Johannesburg Broadband Network Project made by the Metropolitan Trading Company (MTC).
“I have never been shown the forensic report and never asked to comment during the investigations as there are explanations for all the allegations,” he said.
The latest suspension stems from the R1.3 billion Metropolitan Trading Company (MTC) broadband investigation.
According to City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba, the official from the Department of Economic Development was disciplined over allegations of misconduct relating to contracts and payments linked to the Johannesburg Broadband Network Project made by the Metropolitan Trading Company (MTC).
The official in question has already been implicated in an independent forensic investigation which recommends corrective action be taken.
He is also accused of deliberately frustrating an investigation into the city’s seemingly inexplicable R1.3 billion acquisition of the 900km broadband network in 2015.
The aim of the Johannesburg Broadband Network Project was to provide access to broadband services which would improve the city’s service delivery, realise ICT cost-related savings for the city, and grant communities and businesses across Joburg affordable access to the Net.
Despite the astronomical cost, few of these benefits had been realised, necessitating a thorough investigation into this project, said the mayor.
This suspension follows on the termination of Xulu’s contract earlier this month.
Mashaba said the City Power Board met following the final submission of Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo Incorporated’s damning forensic report into allegations of widespread corruption and mismanagement, costing the public billions of rand.
On February 24, Xulu was placed on special leave but decided to terminate his contract following details of serious misconduct.
Mashaba said he fully supported the decision and that it would begin the process of restoring good governance and ending corruption at the power utility.
“Weak corporate governance and corruption at City Power have for too long been allowed to rob our residents of much-needed service delivery.”
This had most recently been made evident by alleged corruption and gross mismanagement of the Eldorado Park and Hopefield substation contracts, where millions of rand were paid to a contractor who had not performed the work required. A NUMBER of media releases have been issued by representatives of the City of Johannesburg in respect of the allegations that there is corruption within City Power.
Many statements have been made implying that I am corrupt or in some way involved in gross misconduct.
Most notably, no detail whatsoever is given in these press releases, despite reports that the Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo Incorporated forensic investigation has been concluded.
City Power informed me recently that they do not intend to institute disciplinary proceedings against me but that in the interests of City Power I am released from my obligations to tender my services but they would honour their obligations to me until the termination of my fixed-term contract which occurs on August 31.
The enquiry into allegations of alleged corruption made against myself and others was initiated in this instance by the City of Johannesburg in January.
Many of these allegations made against me are not new, having been the subject matter of previous investigations and reviews by reputable professional institutions such as a well-established auditing and forensic firm, a leading law firm, practising advocates and also by the auditor-general, all of which concluded that I was not implicated in any impropriety whatsoever. While the City of Johannesburg wished to suspend me at that time, the Board of City Power was of the view that there was no evidence available which would justify my suspension. While there was talk of new evidence being available, this was not provided to City Power by the City of Johannesburg and on that basis City Power had no legal basis to suspend me.
To facilitate the investigation and in the belief that this would clear my name again, I proposed to the Board of City Power that I would take special leave and would have an opportunity to present my input into the investigation report when this became available.
I subsequently participated in an interview with the investigators and provided them with substantial information and willingly answered all queries they raised with me.
Although I have requested it (SNG forensic report), I have not to date been provided with a copy of the investigation report and therefore have no knowledge whatsoever of the findings or whether there are in fact any allegations of impropriety on my behalf. As recently as today (yesterday), I suggested in a letter to City Power that we could meet to discuss the allegations made against me and others in the investigation report as I have nothing to hide as I have had no involvement whatsoever in corruption at City Power or elsewhere. On that aspect, I agree with Mayor Mashaba that corruption must be stamped out and it is for that reason that I am happy to assist City Power if they want me to do so.
I am obviously offended that I have been implicated in the media as being corrupt or involved in misconduct when I have not been favoured with the specificity as to the basis of the alleged investigation findings. I AM taking legal action against the city as there are numerous irregularities in my suspension. I have never been shown the forensic report and never asked to comment during the investigations as there are explanations for all the allegations. Timeline: From the trailing e-mail, you may notice that the requests for information from Nexus only started on the June 30, this despite the fact that we were informed there would be an investigation into this matter on March 6, when we presented to you on the history of the matter and the company.
I only received a request for information on July 10. This was not even a full day before General (Shadrack) Sibiya and his team confronted me in my office for files and documentation relating to the matter on the basis that we were being “uncooperative”. At the time they did so, I and my team were preparing the requested documentation, having only just received the request approximately six working hours earlier. I was furthermore assaulted and my devices taken from me. I have laid criminal charges of assault and theft.
I have for the past number of years (approximately seven) utilised my own personal devices while conducting my city duties. I also utilise cloud platforms such as Google, Dropbox, WhatsApp etc. Part of the reason for this is that the initial laptop I was assigned by the city presented with a fault which Group ICT never resolved, therefore leaving me to make my own arrangements in order to continue to be productive. This means that as my primary personal computing devices, there are significant amounts of personal data and information on them.
The city has never raised this as an issue and in the case of this transaction, members of the team were actually instructed to not utilise city infrastructure as it was unreliable and insecure. On the 11th, General Sibiya unlawfully and forcibly seized these devices. This despite me making a good faith offer to work with his team to identify pertinent data, documents, e-mails, presentations and anything else relevant to this investigation. I have repeated this offer at least twice and it has been declined both times on General Sibiya’s instructions, most recently Sunday, July 16.
It should be self-evident that if the city wants to conclude the investigation timeously, it would want access to the data that will progress the said investigation. The refusal to accept the relevant data substantiates my view, which is that this investigation is a “mala fide” fishing expedition rather than a search for the truth relating to this matter. I say this because the examination that may be conducted with certain data stored on these devices, such as online passwords, financial information, social media postings and relationships, personal e-mails and messages and personal data about my minor children etc when correlated across multiple devices and platforms define many of our lives today. I should also note that in a meeting held with the city’s own lawyers and counsel, they conceded that this was a fishing expedition.
I think it’s therefore self-evident why I do not want an exceptionally unprofessional individual who believes he has a mandate to “find something, anything” to have access to conduct a warrant-less search on the extensive personal data as contained on my devices.
Why, for instance, would I want him to be able to determine where my children go to school and the route I take to deliver them there? Or to view personal messages and pictures between my spouse and I?
My last point is the question of why a fishing expedition is even necessary. I have submitted to the MTC chief executive, managing executive, board, and MMC: Finance, a set of documentation which at least shows maladministration, contraventions and attempted tender fraud and, possibly, violation for two specific procurement activities totalling approximately R70 million. Soon after submitting this information I was removed from my position as acting CTO and to date there has been no investigation of these activities.
‘I answered all the queries they raised with me’ ‘I do not want him to access my personal data’
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: Sicelo Zulu, former managing directer of City Power at Roodepoort substation, has taken offence at having been implicated in the media as being corrupt or involved in misconduct.