Acting eThekwini manager to continue for a month
DURBAN - SIPHO Cele will continue to act as the eThekwini City manager for another month.
His term as a stand in manager for the embattled City manager Sipho Nzuza was extended by executive committee members during a confidential meeting yesterday.
This, The Mercury understands, was approved in the face of objections from opposition parties.
Cele’s term as an acting city manager was set to expire at the end of this month when Nzuza was scheduled to return. Nzuza has been on special leave since November last year, following his second arrest on allegations that he had breached his bail conditions imposed by the courts after his first arrest on allegations of corruption.
He was arrested by the Hawks in March last year on a number of charges, including fraud, corruption and maladministration relating to a multimillion-rand Durban Solid Waste tender. He is accused alongside former mayor Zandile Gumede, councillors and other city officials.
Shortly before his second arrest, concerns were raised that Nzuza was signing off on matters he should not be, in contravention of his bail conditions. Those alleged violations led to his second arrest and court appearance and his bail conditions being tightened.
The Mercury understands that during the discussions yesterday the opposition parties objected to Cele acting for another month. It was said the reason for extending Cele’s acting period was that Nzuza is currently in court fighting for his bail conditions to be relaxed so he can return to his job.
According to sources, opposition party councillors wanted a permanent solution found and objected to extending Cele’s acting period.
Nzuza confirmed that his legal battle to relax his bail conditions was still in court and the decision was expected mid March.
“I have asked the council to extend my leave until March 31, I cannot go back to work under such conditions, I would be setting myself up for an arrest.”
He said there were three conditions that had humstrung his ability to do his job. The first was that he was not allowed to discipline anyone in the council: “How can you be a manager if you cannot discipline anyone? I was told that I should not interact with state witnesses, I do not know who those people are. I might be interacting with someone in the council and they might be a state witness.
“The third condition is that I should not be interacting with the supply chain; everything done in council involves interacting with the supply chain,” he said.
Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said he was not aware of the discussion of extending Cele’s tenure as acting city manager and if they were private discussions he would not be privy to them. He said if there was such a decision, it would be communicated publicly.