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The eThekwini Municipality had no intention of keeping the full Manase and Associates report a secret, but the city was not ready to release the report on fraud, corruption and maladministration to the public, Mayor James Nxumalo said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press briefing outlining council resolutions adopted during a full council in-committee meeting on Monday, Nxumalo said the city was still committed to releasing the full 700-page-report, but only once all the processes, including disciplinary hearings, had been completed.
An abridged version of the report was released by Kwa-Zulu-Natal Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube earlier this year.
The city had promised to release the report on several occasions, but has failed to do.
In June, municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole said political parties would have access to the full content of the report on Monday during the full council meeting, but he did an about turn, a move that infuriated the DA and NFP, who subsequently walked out of the meeting.
Because the city had started with the disciplinary processes against officials implicated in the report, Nxumalo said releasing the report would be prejudicial to the officials and would jeopardise the interests of the municipality.
“This is not an opportune time to release the report to the public. Critically, the report contains affidavits and information provided by whistleblowers who may be called to give evidence at the disciplinary hearings,” he said, adding that another important issue was that the Anti-Corruption Task Team, a multi-agency team, was also investigating concerns raised in the report.
“At no stage have we ever said that the report will remain a secret,” he said. “I want to reiterate that we remain committed to our undertaking to release the report once all the processes have taken their course.”
Sithole said disciplinary processes for management and other staff on allegations of irregular expenditure and those found to be doing business with the city were due to be finalised by the end of August.
In the interest of “transparency”, Nxumalo said opposition parties were welcome to peruse the report at Sithole’s office, but were not allowed to take it with them or make copies.
“It is strange that the DA says that they suspect a cover-up because they were the first to have used that opportunity,” he said.
DA chief whip Dean Macpherson confirmed the party’s two executive committee members had seen the report, but highlighted that they had not seen the report in its entirety.
“You can’t take notes, can’t make copies and there are no annexures, so it’s of no good,” he said.
Ahmed Shaik Emam, of the NFP, said the city had already infringed on the rights of implicated officials when the abridged report was released.
“It appears that the city is only after certain individuals,” he said.