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Hard line on family contracts

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REUTERS

Durban -

If you are on the eThekwini municipality’s staff payroll, but also run a private company and hope to score big by sending council work your way, your company could be blacklisted and not work again for the city.

That’s the recommendation made by the city’s senior auditor, Raveen Sarju, in a report to the municipal public accounts committee recently on staff - and their families - who are making money on the side through contracts.

The report was requested by chairman Sipho Kaunda to give him and the other committee members an insight into how many staff members were doing business with the city.

The report, which looked at the past financial year, said contracts had been given to 20 employees. Close relatives of 13 employees had also gained contracts. Four employees who had been warned were given further contracts.

The type of work involved included roads, sanitation, waste removal, maintenance, the building of bus shelters, and catering.

The value of the work ranged from R12 000 to about R200 000.

The names of the employees and the companies were listed in the report.

The recommendation is that companies owned by staff or members of their families must be suspended and removed from the system so that the council does not work with them.

Sarju said 35 percent of employees who were audited had not declared their private business interests for the 2012/13 financial year.

He acknowledged that half of the employee-owned companies working for the city had been awarded contracts before their owners got jobs with the city.

However, 40 percent of those audited were in service when they were awarded contracts.

Sarju said 80 percent of the investigations remained in progress, and a handful of cases had not yet been submitted to the Integrity and Investigation Unit.

Husbands and wives’ business interests in council were also not being declared.

It has been recommended that the names of new suppliers be checked against employee lists so any who are related may be eliminated from doing business with the municipality.

Opposition parties were cynical, however. The disciplinary measures in place did not teach offenders a “good enough lesson”, they agreed.

NFP councillor Shaik Emam said until there were tough consequences, the city would have a difficult time stopping the problems.

“Until people are fired we will not see a change because they know they can get away with it,” he said.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi agreed. He said employees signed a code of conduct that said neither they nor members of their family could do business with the city.

”It’s an absolute disgrace,” said DA councillor Andre Mitchell.

Last October a report by the ethics committee revealed that ANC councillors Senzangakhona Shange, Nondumiso Cele and Stanley Xulu were repeat offenders when it came to doing business with the municipality.

Shange pleaded guilty to doing business with the city during 2009/10 and 2010/11 and was given a written warning.

Cele also pleaded guilty for the same periods and was warned.

Xulu pleaded guilty to doing business with the city twice during 2010/11. He admitted to working in 2009/10.

He was given a written warning and fined the equivalent of six months’ net salary.

mpume.madlala@inl.co.za

The Mercury


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