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The eThekwini municipality’s public accounts committee has demanded that sections of the damning Manase and Associates forensic report relating to senior municipal official Jacquie Subban be handed over to it in order to recommend what action should be taken against her.
The committee had called for investigations into Subban, the head of the geographic information and policy unit, last year after Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube commissioned Manase to lead the unprecedented probe into the city’s financial affairs.
The Manase investigators had not yet released their findings at the time when the committee made calls for Subban to be suspended and urged the municipality to conduct a full-scale forensic investigation into her unit.
But the committee came under heavy pressure to withdraw its call for her suspension, and The Mercury was asked by municipal officials not to publish the story.
Subban was being investigated for allegations related to her dealings with Adapt-IT, which was contracted by the municipality to develop its website for the 2010 soccer World Cup; overpayments made to Dimension Data by her department; and that she irregularly awarded two section-36 contracts for the installation of fibre-optic cables.
The abridged version of the Manase report alleges that Subban irregularly awarded two section-36 contracts to H2O Networks (SA) Pty Ltd for the installation of fibre-optic cable.
It was recommended that disciplinary action be taken against her for this reason, and also for negligence that resulted in duplicate payments of R2.6 million being made to Dimension Data on September 2 and 10, 2008. However, the transaction was subsequently reversed.
Acting municipal ombudsman Nhlanhla Mthethwa on Thursday told the committee - an independent body set up to scrutinise municipal spending - that he had not concluded his findings on three allegations against Subban because they had been covered in the Manase investigation report.
However, a fourth investigation into a consultant’s alleged irregular dealings with the municipality had been stalled following Subban’s indefinite sick leave, Mthethwa said.
The fourth allegation was that a consultant had been awarded a contract to procure services on behalf of the municipality, in contravention of the supply chain management policy, and that the consultant had authorised payments on behalf of the municipality amounting to millions of rand.
Mthethwa said that without Subban’s “side of the story” the investigation report would not be conclusive.
But ANC councillor and deputy chairwoman of the committee Nompumelelo Chamane questioned whether there was such a thing as indefinite sick leave.
Although it was unclear when Subban went on sick leave, municipal legal adviser Vuyokazi Ngwenya said employees were entitled to 90 days’ sick leave over a three-year cycle, and could exhaust their sick leave within a year.
DA councillor Peter Davis said the committee would ask city manager S’bu Sithole for the sections of the Manase report that dealt with allegations against Subban.
Chamane echoed Davis’s sentiments. “We want to know what happened to the R2m allegations and the Adapt-IT matter,” she said.
DA councillor Andre Mitchell said the Manase investigation should not be used as an excuse.
“You (Mthethwa) were supposed to give us a report before Manase became an issue. The ombudsman is supposed to be independent,” he said.
Committee chairman Sipho Kaunda said the report was now in Sithole’s hands.
Chamane agreed that the matter be referred to Sithole.
The Mercury could not reach Sithole or Subban for comment. - The Mercury