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Damning report recommends mayor’s removal

Zululand district municipality mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi. Picture: Screengrab

Zululand district municipality mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi. Picture: Screengrab

Published Aug 10, 2021

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DURBAN - A DAMNING forensic investigation report has recommended that Zululand District Municipality Mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi be removed from his posts as mayor and councillor.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka commissioned Mdledle Incorporated Attorneys & Conveyancers to investigate after receiving information on allegations of maladministration, fraud and corruption in Zululand.

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Buthelezi was allegedly part of a bid process, hired additional bodyguards that exceeded the budget, donated money to an oil company, and interfered with the administrative duties of the municipality. The report was finalised in April last year.

In response, Buthelezi neither confirmed nor denied the allegations against him. He told the Daily News that the municipality took a resolution to submit the report to the Pietermaritzburg High Court to be reviewed and set aside.

Buthelezi said he made the application last year and declined to elaborate further. He also claimed the municipality did not have a spokesperson and that all media enquiries went through him.

Cogta spokesperson Senzo Mzila said the MEC had not acted on the report, because it was subject to litigation. He said getting information on the court application would take time.

The report recommended that Buthelezi should be charged for allegedly involving himself in the bid process procedure, and “while that process is under way he should be suspended from participating in any activities of the municipality”.

Buthelezi allegedly contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) after attending and participating in a briefing session held on April 18, 2018, for two municipal tenders for drilling boreholes for the rudimentary north and south water supply projects.

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Buthelezi allegedly allocated himself 14 bodyguards and security personnel, which were paid for by the municipality, contrary to a Cogta circular that restricted mayors and speakers to a maximum of two bodyguards, while councillors were limited to one.

“Even though the number of security personnel has since been decreased to eight in October 2018, it is still exceeding the required quantity of security personnel allocation as prescribed …”

The municipality forked out a monthly instalment of R402 067.43 for the mayor’s security alone. The municipality allegedly exceeded the budget allocated for security services by 73% in the 2018/19 financial year. The original budget for security services was R15.2 million. It was adjusted by R9m during the budget adjustment period.

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This resulted in an increase in the security services budget of R24.2m to be expended in the 2018/19 financial year. The allocated security services budget allegedly exceeded by R17.6m.

“We quantified the amount that is paid by the municipality for security services per annum to R41.8m, VAT inclusive. The amount included R4.2m paid for VIP protection of councillors and for the municipal officials. The balance amount of R37.5m is for guarding provision of security services over the municipality’s infrastructure assets,” read the report.

“There were (security) service providers who performed services that ran concurrently with other service providers in certain areas,” the report stated.

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It was recommended that the municipality considered applying section 32 of the MFMA by recovering the irregular expenditure that was incurred.

In one instance, the municipality allegedly paid R1.8m to a service provider, despite the acting municipal manager at that time purportedly failing to approve deviation before the appointment of the service provider.

It was concluded that the payment of R1.8m to a service provider for the event management plan for the Ingonyama Trust Board Imbizo in 2018 constituted an irregular expenditure.

Buthelezi allegedly forced his hand in the appointment of one candidate who scored fewer points during the interview. He allegedly penned a letter on October 12, 2018, to a senior municipal official indicating which candidate he preferred to be employed as the deputy director: mayoral support. This was despite the mayor’s preferred candidate scoring fewer points during the interview. This was purportedly viewed as an interference in the administration and management of the municipality.

The mayor also allegedly failed to act in good faith when he instructed the municipal manager to effect payment of R66 435 to a filling station. He was allegedly assisting the “emerging entrepreneur” to finalise his application to the oil company. The report said: “Zululand District Municipality does not have a donation policy, which guides the municipality as to when and how to donate funds to any entity or individuals. The instruction from the mayor was not guided by any legislative framework and therefore was illegal.”

Daily News

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