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Request to probe corruption allegations against Zululand District Municipality mayor ‘receiving attention’ – Public Protector Mkhwebane

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed that her office was processing a request to investigate allegations of corruption against Zululand district municipality mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi. | Theo Jeptha

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed that her office was processing a request to investigate allegations of corruption against Zululand district municipality mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi. | Theo Jeptha

Published Apr 7, 2022

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Durban - Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has started looking into allegations of corruption against Zululand District Municipality mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi.

Mkhwebane was in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday and met Premier Sihle Zikalala and legislature speaker Nontembeko Boyce over various investigations and remedial recommendations her office has undertaken and issued.

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She told the Daily News that her office received a request from Lindokuhle Xulu to investigate the allegations of maladministration against the mayor, saying the request was receiving attention.

“We have received the complaint. Our provincial office in eThekwini is assessing it for jurisdiction and a decision will be made soon on the way forward,” Mkhwebane said.

Xulu welcomed the announcement, saying Mkhwebane’s office had written to him about the development. He said that in 10 days’ time he would meet officials from the office to provide them with more evidence.

Municipality spokesperson Zanele Mthethwa said the municipality was no longer commenting on the matter.

Xulu has been leading a campaign for the mayor’s removal from office, accusing him of rampant corruption.

Following the ANC’s failure to remove the mayor two weeks ago through a vote of no confidence, Xulu solicited the public protector’s intervention. On behalf of the Zululand district community, he said he had written to Mkhwebane asking her to investigate corruption in Zululand.

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“As directed by the community of Zululand district municipality, I have written a formal submission to … Mkhwebane. In the attached letter, I indicated that I have been mandated to approach her office to request an urgent investigation into our municipality and the mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi.”

Xulu said they had noted that the public protector had released a number of reports relating to investigations into public procurement, recruitment and selection of staff and management of ratepayers' funds by municipalities this week, saying this gave him confidence that she would also pay special attention to the issues they have been raising for over a year now.

He said their request for the investigation was based on Buthulezi’s alleged non-compliance in fulfilling his duties, obligations and responsibilities in terms of the Constitution, the Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003, the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000, and the Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998. This allegedly involved the fraudulent issuing of tenders and contracts to undeserving tenderpreneurs who were allegedly associated with the mayor, and alleged widespread fraud and corruption associated with the supply chain and procurement sections.

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“We have stated in our submission to the public protector that we are witnessing the diversion of resources away from their intended goal of development, service delivery and creation of a better life for us as residents. We have emphasised that the mayor has been allowed to frustrate our aspirations and indicated that would have disastrous consequences for the whole district.”

Xulu further warned that he planned to lay criminal charges against the mayor with the Hawks.

Buthelezi and Xulu have been at loggerheads since last year after the mayor hosted a business breakfast in Durban in an attempt to woo business to Zululand, which Xulu alleged carried a price tag of R5 million. At the time Buthelezi rubbished the figure.

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“These are the figures. Venue cost: R71 000 excl VAT and consists of round tables, chairs, table cloths, AV pack, venue screen, projectors, seamless scaler/switcher, laptop, PA system, line microphone, PC sound and technician, roving mics, parking, food and beverages: R46 200 excl VAT. NB: These costs cater for 100 people. Sub total excl VAT R117 200. Sub total incl VAT R134 780.”

Two weeks ago hundreds of residents marched to the municipality offices in the district demanding the mayor’s resignation. The following day the ANC withdrew its motion of no confidence at the last minute after it became clear numbers were not on its side.

Xulu and the ANC are accusing Buthelezi of squandering R240m on security for himself and wife. Buthelezi has dismissed their accusations, saying it was a smear campaign, and said he was not involved in financial matters as the mayor. At the time Mthethwa said the municipality was not at liberty to comment on such allegations.

In response to Xulu’s crusade, Buthelezi threatened him with a lawsuit if he did not stop spreading unfounded accusations against him. Last week the mayor’s lawyer slapped Xulu with a letter of demand to remove all posts on social media accusing the mayor of corruption or face court action. He was given a 24-hour deadline to remove the posts but he ignored the demand and instead challenged the mayor to go to court.

Daily News

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