ANC factions placed at centre of campaign to oust city manager

ANC factions at the eThekwini metro are believed to be at the centre of a smear campaign and a plot to sack city manager Musa Mbhele.

Opposition parties in the only metro in KwaZulu-Natal have been leading a charge, calling for the head of Mbhele on allegations that he was involved in corrupt activities.

Key to the charges is that Mbhele had unduly authorised the extension of an electronic advertising contract for a company known as Sotobe Outdoor without following the supply chain management processes, a claim that Mbhele denies.

Sunday World understands, through internal sources, that those who wanted Mbhele out in the cold were pinning their hopes on two reports compiled by the City Integrity and Investigating Unit (CIIU) which alleged that Mbhele had committed corruption and gross misconduct by extending the electronic advertising contract.

Other allegations is that Mbhele had asked for kickbacks from the said service provider, which he apparently used to build a luxury house in Cowies Hill, an upmarket suburb in Pinetown, Durban. At the time, Mbhele was the metro’s head of planning unit.

“It was just a wild goose chase because even the report that purportedly implicate the city manager had fundamental flaws,” said an insider.

“When the CIIU made their presentation to the speaker and the mayor, it emerged that when the contract was extended Mbhele was no longer with the department.”

He added that the CIIU was subsequently ordered to review the report and another acting head of the unit was implicated in the newly drafted report.

“Those who compiled the reports rushed to charge Mbhele because he was the one who had signed the initial three-year contract which, when it was awarded, was above board.

“So, in essence there was nothing linking the current city manager to the fraudulent extension of the Sotobe contract.”

Another source told Sunday World that a former employee-turned-whistleblower Amos Mjwara had also made allegations that Mbhele had used him to facilitate kickbacks from service providers who were doing business with the city including Sotobe.

The amount which was collected, according to the whistleblower, was about R3-million.

“The whistleblower was asked to submit bank statements to the CIIU to prove his claim. He couldn’t, instead he produced a batch of e-mails which he said was a conversation between him and Mbhele apparently asking him to facilitate the payments.

“Mjwara was also requested to hand over his electronic equipment, phones and laptops. But again he did not comply,” said the source.

The stalemate led to the CIIU handing over the matter to police to probe further.

While the affidavit deposed by the investigating unit mentions Mbhele and others as the key subjects of the probe, it does not recommend any charges against them. Instead the affidavit wants police to investigate whether there was any criminality involved.

Council speaker Thabani Nyawose has also been dragged into the saga.

The African Democratic Change, a minority political party within the eThekwini metro, also entered the fray demanding that Nyawose be charged for misleading council when he said there were no charges opened against the city manager.

Party leader Visvin Reddy said his organisation will table a vote of no confidence against the speaker.

Asked to comment on the allegations, Nyawose said he would not be drawn into commenting about the status of the reports, noting that they had not been tabled before council.

“I cannot discuss issues that have not been discussed or tabled and discussed in council. It is against normal protocol. On the vote of no confidence, this is merely a populist decision by Reddy and his party, and a desperate attempt to stay relevant,” said Nyawose.

Mbhele, on the other hand, was appointed to the position on default after the ruling party had backed Max Mbili, the Ray Nkonyeni municipal manager for the top job.

The metro will on Thursday hold its full council meeting which is expected to be a heated affair. The ANC in the province could not be reached for comment.


To read more political news and views, click here.

Follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook Page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa.

Latest News