Mandela Metro in R30m debt relief scandal

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro municipality’s COO and former acting city manager, Christopher Dyani, is embroiled in a scandal after attempting to settle a multi-million rands debt due by a real estate company without raising any concerns about the actual amount billed.

Sunday World can reveal that as the acting chief of administration for the metro last year, Dyani tried to get Premier Precision Properties’ R30-million debt to the municipality reduced.

Since then, the city has admitted that the company applied for debt relief, however, it has also indicated that the procedure is still in progress.

According to a message seen by this publication, a top director of the municipality’s revenue management is refusing to support the effort to get Premier Precision’s debt lowered.

In the email conversation, Mbuzeli Nogqala asserts that seeking to wipe off R30 million of Premier Precision Properties debt to the municipality would be an irrational decision he does not want to be party to.

Nogqala wrote a letter to his superior, the city’s CFO, Selwyn Thys, expressing his uneasiness with complying with Dyani’s demands. His complaint stemmed from a letter Dyani sent to Premier Precision Properties’ lawyers on December 8, 2023, indicating that the municipality would be open to waiving R30-million of their client’s debt.

The corporation owes the municipality around R120-million, and according to Dyani, a reasonable settlement would be to wipe off 25% of the debt. But Nogqala was having none of it, saying the agreement violated the municipality’s income collection statutes.

Furthermore, he disapproved of the requested debt relief because he believed it would create a precedent for other companies to seek similar relief, which would lead to the collapse of the city’s finances.

“As the primary employee in the institution given the responsibility to collect revenue, I cannot in good conscience prepare an item and motivate for a debt write-off without a clear rationale behind the instruction,” he said.

Dyani denied wrongdoing.

“The Metro has an approved Credit Control Policy which regulates requests for debt relief Premier Precision Properties was advicsed of these provisions, said Dyani.

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