Durban - Two political rivals – the ANC and the IFP – have separately called for a probe into the NFP leader and mayor of Zululand District Municipality (ZDM), Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, alleging that she had misused municipal funds to bankroll her party’s election campaign.
Both parties have laid complaints with the public protector and have called for KaMagwaza-Msibi’s resignation as mayor.
But the mayor has responded by describing the allegations as a “smear campaign” and claiming that “wrong information (was) being peddled for that purpose”.
Documents supplied to the public protector allege the NFP leader and her close associates have siphoned off millions at the municipality.
The latest auditor-general’s report stated that almost R19 million had been irregularly spent at ZDM.
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said in Lindelani at the weekend, “Municipal funds have allegedly been channelled into the NFP’s election campaign, which means that money which the national Treasury gave to the municipality to deliver services, has allegedly been used (for) NFP posters.”
Buthelezi added: “Alleged tender fraud must be investigated, where NFP members are being given lucrative contracts without having to compete for the tender.
“Money is missing from the municipality. Millions of rand allocated for providing water has just disappeared, and neither the mayor nor her municipal manager have answered questions raised by the provincial legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts.”
Buthelezi’s comments followed a protest earlier this month by ANC Youth League supporters who marched from the Ulundi parliament buildings to the municipal offices, demanding KaMagwaza-Msibi’s resignation.
Her critics charge that KaMagwaza-Msibi has used municipal-funded roadshows, and big public events such as Youth Day and Women’s Day, as vehicles for her campaign.
ANC national executive committee member Bheki Cele, who led the youth league march, said, “This mayor is all over the show. She’s in the hostels in Gauteng, in the Eastern Cape. We wonder what resources she is using because constitutionally she’s got a demarcated area which is called Zululand District.”
ZDM executive committee members from the ANC and IFP – each have two members on the council’s exco – claim that municipal funds have been used to buy NFP promotional goods, and to cover the costs of NFP campaigns, often in other provinces.
Councillor SE Nkwanyana, the IFP’s whip and an exco member, alleges in his complaint to the public protector that the R184 950 cost of 5 000 NFP T-shirts was borne by the municipality through the ZDM roadshow budget.
Municipal-funded events such as roadshows were turned into NFP campaign meetings, he said.
He added, “Thousands of rand from municipal coffers were used in the Gauteng NFP rally termed the ‘Zonkizizwe Road Show’, on October 6 last year. Hostels were visited to garner support for the NFP.”
He claimed that NFP election campaigning in North West province over that period was financed by ZDM. The event was planned to coincide with, and was covered by, the Gauteng Roadshow costs, he said.
His ANC counterpart on exco, councillor ME Khumalo, added: “Of the R441m given for water and sanitation infrastructure, ZDM can account for only R241m. That is now being investigated by Scopa.”
Approached for comment, KaMagwaza-Msibi replied: “ZDM holds five road shows, each for ZDM local municipalities which are Ulundi, Nongoma, AbaQulusi, Phongolo and eDumbe. However, due to the fact that most of our economically active are migrant workers in Durban and Johannesburg, we also hold some road shows in those areas (one each), depending on the nature of the road show.
“Road shows are held as part of ZDM’s Community Participation Programme where ZDM residents are afforded an opportunity to air their views before the implementation of budget or to get their input before the formulation of IDP (Integrated Development Plan). All road shows are budgeted for and are approved by the council before they are implemented.”
Financial documents from ZDM, covering the period July to September last year, also reveal that millions of rand were spent in the three-month period on travel, entertainment and accommodation. The events included Youth Day celebrations/summit, Women’s Day celebrations/summit, an air show, and an air race.
ZDM did not reply to all Daily News questions on the costs of these events, saying they required more time to dig up the financial records.
“As the NFP is using anti-fraud and corruption as its core electioneering message, our political rivals are doing their best to discredit us,” KaMagwaza-Msibi said.
Kgalalelo Masibi, spokeswoman for the Public Protector, on Tuesday confirmed receipt of the complaints and said these must still be assessed. “It is only after the assessment that the Public Protector will decide whether to conduct a preliminary or full investigation into the allegations.”