The new eThekwini city manager, Sipho Nzuza, is eager to “bring closure” to a nearly five-year-old forensic report that found evidence of widespread looting, corruption, racketeering and fraud by former mayor Obed Mlaba, politically connected businesses, city officials, councillors, police and staff.
Nzuza, who on Friday was introduced to Durban’s business fraternity at a breakfast held at Moses Mabhida Stadium, told ANA after the meeting that he was keen to finalise the findings of the 2012 Manase Report, which implicated Mlaba of impropriety.
To date, no one implicated in the report has been prosecuted.
City Mayor Zandile Gumede told ANA the report was “long gone”. Asked specifically about Mlaba, she said: “I can’t talk about this, this is a new council, and I am the new mayor. I am going to be building my legacy. I don’t want to talk about other people.”
Bank-rolled by the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, the ‘Forensic Investigation Report: eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality’ was a 7 050-page document commissioned in April 2011 and undertaken by auditors Manase and Associates.
It investigated the decade preceding 2011, which covered Mlaba’s two-terms as mayor.
Manase and Associates found evidence of illegal staff appointments, abuse of overtime and expense claims, fraud within Durban Metro Police, irregularities in the planning office and supply-chain management, nondisclosure by councillors and officials of business interests, illegal rental and sale by staff of RDP houses and abuse of bylaws to push through emergency tenders.
The investigation found a prima facie case against Mlaba, now South Africa’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom. He allegedly influenced the award of a R3 billion tender in favour of a company to which his daughter belonged.
The tender, which was subsequently cancelled, was for running the Solid Waste Reduction Plant and Bisasar Road Landfill in Umgeni.
After the report was publicly released in June 2013, the City said it would not pursue Mlaba because, “council didn’t incur losses”.
But Nzuza said that while he was not au fait with the report, it “has to be taken to its closure, we can’t just leave it”.
“We will be looking at [it] … we want to find out what happened to the suggested recommendations, what is happening and if they have been taken forward because we need to have closure,” said Nzuza.