Durban - The EFF has suspended six of its eight councillors in the eThekwini council, accusing them, among other things, of misappropriating council funds.
After suspending the councillors last week the party then laid criminal charges against them, saying their conduct amounted to fraud, corruption and theft.
The suspended councillors are: Bonginkosi Ngiba (caucus leader), Tholithemba Mthiyane, who is the deputy chairperson for the region, Lungile Mnguni, Buhlebuyeza Shozi, Mlungisi Mdlalose and Thulile Mfusi.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the councillors were only suspended from party activities. “By law, we can’t prohibit them from council until we exhaust our internal party processes.”
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele confirmed that a case of fraud, which allegedly occurred in March, had been “opened at Durban Central police station for investigation”.
The EFF has charged the councillors with several cases stemming from the flow of constituency funds paid out monthly by the eThekwini Municipality.
The party has not been able to prepare audited financial statements to account for the use of the funds as required.
Constituency funds are paid monthly by the municipality to parties represented in the council. The amount paid out depends on the number of councillors each party has in the council. The money is paid into a party account monthly and not into individual councillors’ accounts.
The EFF councillors said the funds were meant to help them do their duties and buy office supplies like stationery.
However, the EFF believes the six councillors shared the funds among themselves. Ndlozi said the party got R15000 a month.
He said a disciplinary process had been instituted so that the councillors could account for the missing funds. He said the disciplinary process started after an internal investigation.
The EFF has also charged the councillors with misrepresenting themselves when they opened the bank account into which the funds were to be deposited.
Some are accused of having identified themselves as the secretary, chairperson and treasurer when they opened the account.
Sources within the EFF who are sympathetic to the councillors claimed that their suspensions were linked to internal squabbles in the party.
“This is nothing but a purge. All six councillors did not back the faction that emerged victorious at the recent provincial people’s assembly,” said one source.
The source questioned why the councillors had been suspended even though they had signed a settlement agreement to pay back the funds.
Each of the six councillors had agreed to pay back the money in three monthly instalments of R9400 each.
This would have meant the party would have recovered just over R169000 from the councillors.
“However, after signing those settlement agreements, they were told they were being charged and that the arrangement to pay back the money had fallen through,” the source said.