eThekwini not ready to release audit report

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iol news pic James Nxumalo INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo.

Durban - The eThekwini municipality is not ready to release a forensic report on fraud and corruption, mayor James Nxumalo said in Durban on Wednesday.

“Releasing the report will prejudice the parties involved, including jeopardising the interests of the municipality,” Nxumalo said.

An abridged version of the report was released by KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance MEC Nomusa Dube in February.

The city was supposed to release the full contents of the report to political parties on July 16 and to the public on Tuesday.

Nxumalo said the report contained affidavits and information provided by whistleblowers who may be called to give evidence at the disciplinary hearings.

“Another important issue is that the anti-corruption task team is also investigating issues raised in that report and releasing it may compromise investigations,” he said.

All political parties could make appointments to view the report in the municipal manager's office, but could not make copies of it, Nxumalo said.

“When the DA suggests that there is a cover up, they are playing politics because they were the first ones to make an appointment to view the report,” he said.

Nxumalo said the report would not remain a secret and that the city was still committed to release it once all the processes were completed.

The probe was instituted after Auditor General Terence Nombembe said in his 2009/10 report that R532 million had been irregularly spent by the municipality.

The investigation also contained accusations against a number of senior officials.

It found that 10 councillors had business interests with entities which conducted business with the eThekwini Municipality.

The Democratic Alliance and the National Freedom Party walked out of a closed, full council meeting on Monday when eThekwini city manager Sbu Sithole was to have discussed the report.

“The Democratic Alliance has made it clear that the party will play no part in any deliberations concerning the Manase report which are held in secret, as this particularly prevents any cogent decision being made by party members about any individual named in the report without a complete discovery,” DA caucus leader Tex Collins said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said the rights of the people to know the truth had been curtailed by Sithole's refusal to release the full and complete report in the mistaken belief that he was protecting those it named.

“It was on this basis that the members of the Democratic Alliance caucus left the meeting refusing to play any further part of a process regarded as flawed and contrary to... any transparent and democratic system of governance,” Collins said.

NFP councillor Bongiwe Mtshali told the Mercury her party walked out of the meeting because it no longer wanted to be party to Sithole's “cover up”.

“It now appears as if there are individuals who are being protected,” she said. - Sapa


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