The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has urged Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, to probe both eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and councillor, Mondli Mthembu, for alleged malfeasance under the Municipal Systems Act.
“The MEC not only has the authority to institute an inquiry, but if he finds that the councillors breached the code (of conduct of councillors), he has a duty to suspend the councillors or remove them entirely from office,” Outa KZN’s provincial manager Tim Tyrrell said.
Outa said that there was evidence to show the two had likely contravened the code and that a civil inquiry would not amount to interference in the criminal investigation under way. It said that the burden of proof, as well as the subsequent consequences, in civil and criminal proceedings were vastly different
Gumede was charged in mid-May along with two co-accused – ANC councillor Mondli Mthembu and businessman Craig Poonan – for alleged tender fraud, corruption and racketeering relating to a 2016 Durban Solid Waste contract worth R208 million, ANA reported earlier.
Several others were arrested two weeks prior to the trio’s arrest for their alleged roles in the same case. All of the accused were released on bail and will appear again in August.
It was alleged in court, among others, that the mayor influenced the awarding of tenders, ordered administration staff to break the law and organised a march against the city manager, Sipho Nzuza, calling for his axing after he refused to pay the companies for the irregular contracts they had obtained, the reports said.
Tyrrell said if the new provincial government was serious about cleaning up government and putting the people first, it must exercise its legislative duty and proceed with an inquiry into Gumede and Mthembu.
“The community’s best interests must prevail. While there is a legislative imperative for action to follow there is also a moral obligation,” Tyrrell said.
He said the lack of urgency by the eThekwini Municipality to hold any inquiry into the accused councillors was unacceptable and a slap in the face to all law-abiding residents.
Outa has requested a response from the MEC by 16 July.
– African News Agency (ANA)