Last month, city manager Sipho Nzuza announced that he was suspending two officials from the Water and Sanitation Unit who were implicated in the urine diversion toilet scandal.
The two are said to have authorised payments totalling R36 million for the toilets despite these units having not been supplied.
Urine diversion toilets separate urine from faeces and are deemed cheaper than waterborne sewage, which is considered costly, especially in rural areas and informal settlements where infrastructure does not exist.
According to investigators, four companies were paid to supply 2200 of these to 31 rural and semi-rural wards in eThekwini. The city’s integrity and investigations unit, which probed the irregularities, had recommended the two officials face disciplinary action.
On March 1, Nzuza told the media the two had been suspended. However, The Mercury has established through a number of sources that these officials are still at work.
“There was a move to try to move them to the housing (unit), but that did not happen. There is nothing that has been done, they are still at work,” said a source at the municipality.
Nzuza had also promised to act against an official implicated in the orange recycling bags tender scandal. A forensic investigation had found a R90m tender was irregularly awarded to a company that lacked any experience or capacity to produce the orange bags used for recycling paper.
The investigators had recommended disciplinary proceedings against a senior official at Durban Solid Waste. However, The Mercury has also confirmed from various sources that the official is still at work.
On Wednesday last week, The Mercury sent questions to the city’s communication unit. In response, officials from the unit said in an e-mail: “We will revert once we have collated the information you requested.”
Attempts to get hold of Nzuza were unsuccessful.
Nelly Nyanisa of the ANC, chief whip of eThekwini Council, said she would be asking Nzuza for an explanation.
“The city manager had told me he had suspended the officials. It has since been brought to my attention that they are indeed at work and the city manager will have to give an explanation as to what happened and how the investigation will continue while the people are at work,” she said.
DA caucus leader, Nicole Graham, said she had written to city authorities in the past week seeking answers on the implementation of the recommendations in the report into the recycling bags tender.
“The response I received was that no one has been suspended,” she said. “These are very serious recommendations and we will be watching all of these developments.
“The city owes it to the public to come up with clear answers on what they plan to do.”
IFP councillor and exco member Mdu Nkosi had earlier written to the city manager about the orange plastic bags tender: “The response I got was that there was going to be suspensions. It is confusing if no action has been taken. Why?”
Nkosi said part of the problem was that the administration in eThekwini was divided into two camps. “This then makes it difficult for certain decisions to be made.”
Nkosi was referring to the perception that some officials are said to be behind the current political leadership, while others are seen to be loyal to the former mayor. Recently the controversial Delangokubona Business Forum said it was aware some officials were working against mayor Zandile Gumede.