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Probe into claims of eThekwini ‘collusion plot’

eThekwini MPAC chairperson Thami Xuma inspecting trucks at the abandoned City's plant. Photo supplied

eThekwini MPAC chairperson Thami Xuma inspecting trucks at the abandoned City's plant. Photo supplied

Published May 31, 2023


Durban — The eThekwini City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) will launch investigations into allegations of collusion between Human Settlement and Infrastructure officials and the company that produces asphalt and tar to collapse the City’s tar plant with the intention to procure services from the company.

This was revealed by the Municipal Public Accounts Committee chair (MPAC) Thami Xuma. He said that after his oversight visit to the plant last week, he had escalated the matter to the CIIU and asked it to begin a probe into allegations of collusion.

Xuma said on Tuesday that the CIIU, in acknowledging his letter, assured him that they would look into the matter.

Xuma, who is also an EFF councillor, made an unannounced visit to the plant in Clairwood, south of Durban, last week. There he found that 75 workers always come to work and sign the register but then disappear or sit there the whole day doing nothing.

“What I saw needed to be investigated. Last week, I wrote to the CIIU, so we will wait for them to tell us what they found. We strongly believe something fishy took place. We want to get to the bottom of why the City has had to procure services while it could produce its own,’’ said Xuma.

He had been informed that the plot to render the plant unusable was allegedly hatched to allow the City to issue a tender to this company, in exchange for kickbacks, he said.

He was shocked and disappointed that ratepayers were forking out billions for road maintenance services by private companies since the plant collapsed several years ago, whereas the City had the capacity to produce its own tar and paving material, he said.

eThekwini MPAC chairperson Thami Xuma inspecting the City's abandoned tar plant. Photo supplied

The MPAC chairperson said ratepayers must know why the municipality was procuring services from a private company while it had the capacity to produce its own, adding that it was corruption on a massive scale that needed to be unmasked.

Sources within the City also alluded to the allegations, saying they were told of a senior official who is collecting a big sum of money from the service provider as a kickback for keeping the plant deteriorating.

Xuma said the 75 staff did nothing except when the private company needed them to collect the tar, which only happened if their work was awarded to the company. He said that out of 25 trucks, only three were licensed to be on the road – a further indication of the sabotaging of the plant for ulterior motives.

The City would not have had potholes everywhere if it had managed the plant, he said. The human settlements and infrastructure political head councillor, who is also the EFF leader, Themba Mvubu, had promised to conduct his own investigation.

Municipality spokesperson, Lindiwe Khuzwayo, said the CIIU received a request to investigate the allegations.

The infrastructure decay in eThekwini has been a bone of contention between the opposition and governing ANC. It also led to the breakdown of working relations between then-deputy mayor Philani Mavundla and mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, which resulted in Mavundla’s dismissal by the ANC. After leaving the City, Mavundla ran a vigorous campaign, visiting and filming all the dilapidated infrastructure.

The City’s failure to maintain infrastructure was believed to be one of the reasons that prompted intervention by the national government, which partially placed the City under administration and sent former director-general in the Presidency, Dr Cassius Lubisi, to rescue the sinking ship.

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