Manase cover-up ‘is a betrayal’
The DA in the eThekwini municipality has vowed to revoke its confidentiality agreement about council matters until the damning 700-page forensic report into the city’s finances is made public.
The party’s caucus leader, Tex Collins, told The Mercury yesterday that mayor James Nxumalo had “betrayed the council and reneged on his promise to fight corruption” by failing to release the full report.
This week, the council met behind closed doors to discuss recommendations and the course of action that would be taken against officials implicated in the recently released report by forensic auditors Manase and Associates.
However, Collins said that Nxumalo had again presented councillors with a sanitised version of the report.
“The DA will not go in committee to discuss any part of the report,” he said.
“When we go in committee, we are muzzled and the confidentiality clause has no time-line, it is open-ended… We are very angry.”
He added: “This then begs the question why has it taken this long for the city to release the report to the officials who have been named.”
Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay said the report had to be made public, and ratepayers had the right to know. But the council also had to be cautious because certain aspects of the report could undermine the process of investigation.
Nxumalo said this week that the report would be released after all those implicated had been given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
City manager Sibusiso Sithole said that former city manager Michael Sutcliffe faced a police probe for failing to report certain corrupt and fraudulent activities, resulting in the city losing R1.1 million.
He also said that the council would take steps to recover the money from Sutcliffe.
An independent investigator would then be appointed to discipline senior managers implicated and to report to the council in 30 days on the charges they could face.
Sutcliffe was still overseas yesterday.
His attorney, Roger Knowles, said that the Manase report had once again been used to “flay” his client without offering him the opportunity to respond.
Knowles said that the coverage of the Manase findings was damaging. His client, who had not seen the report, would soon be returning to SA.
“Once he has seen and assessed the Manase report and the media coverage, he will be in a position to respond,” he said. “Pending that time, you are requested to attempt to repair some of the damage that has been done and to resist the urge to further stir the rancid stew of one-sided public opinion.”
No copy of the report or the executive summary had been forthcoming, he said.
City treasurer Krish Kumar, who was named by the Manase investigators for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent irregular expenditure, said yesterday that he had not seen the report.
“I would be happy for due process to be followed on the matter,” he said.
The Mercury was unable to reach Nxumalo for comment.