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Mayor James Nxumalo has expressed “utter disgust” at former city manager Michael Sutcliffe’s claims of goings-on in the council, saying there was no crisis in the eThekwini Municipality.
He said Sutcliffe’s claims, reported on Wednesday in the Daily News, sought to create negative perceptions about the stability of the city’s administration.
Sutcliffe said there had been attempts to oust him because he had refused to give in to pressure to cheat for the benefit of certain politicians. The pressure to cheat, the former city boss said, had been scary and serious.
He said charges against his managers for irregular expenditure were “wholly inappropriate”. They had been publicly humiliated.
Nxumalo said Sutcliffe’s comments also sought to take a swipe at his successor, Sibusiso Sithole.
“From the outset we wish to make it clear that we do not intend to get involved in the mudslinging matches that some of these statements are seeking to achieve.
“However, in the light of these continued attacks it is important that we, as the political leadership of this municipality, put certain matters on record,” Nxumalo said.
Nxumalo said the municipality was stable.
“There is no crisis in the administration,” he said.
He also dismissed Sutcliffe’s claim that senior council officials named in the Manase audit Report, including former city treasurer Krish Kumar, former deputy city manager and procurement head Derek Naidoo, and former housing head Cogi Pather had “been forced out of the municipality without being given a chance to respond to the so-called findings”.
Nxumalo said: “We would like to reassure staff and citizens that there is no purging of any individuals in the municipality.
“In cases where disciplinary or other steps have to be taken against individuals, such will be done through free and fair processes and every affected person will be given a chance to state their case in an appropriate forum.”
Nxumalo also said the city’s executive committee and council had full confidence in Sithole and fully supported his efforts to take forward the municipality.
“We urge staff to remain focused on their duties and not to allow themselves to be distracted by people keen on causing instability and to create uncertainty among staff.
“We have also noted with great concern that our internal communications tools are being abused to undermine the incumbent city manager and the leadership of the municipality, and we condemn this irresponsible conduct in the strongest terms.
“We wish to reiterate our full confidence in the city administration, including city manager, senior, middle and junior management as well as officials at all levels,” he said.
DA caucus leader in the council, Tex Harris, said there was clear and mounting evidence to suggest that councillors were still deeply involved in irregular and corrupt activities.
“The DA has long held the view that the Manase Report has not revealed the full extent of the corruption within eThekwini Municipality and that the focus of attention of the report should not only have been directed at city officials but at the body politic as well,” Harris said.
This view was more than vindicated by Sutcliffe’s statement on Wednesday. “As a point of departure, all the many community development contracts awarded for the collection and removal of refuse should be investigated as it is well known that councillors are beneficiaries of the largess provided by these contracts.
“The external security awards need to be carefully scrutinised as these contracts also provide some serious cause for concern.”
Sitting on the council executive committee were two councillors who had been found to be doing business with the council, Harris said.
They had enjoyed continued ANC protection and participated in the day-to-day business of determining Durban’s fortunes, he said.