Msunduzi city manager, council at loggerheads

Municipal manager Lulamile Mapholoba

Municipal manager Lulamile Mapholoba

Published Feb 27, 2024


A “war” is raging in the Msunduzi Municipality between the municipal manager Lulamile Mapholoba and the City council.

The city manager has been ordered by the council to give reasons why he should not be suspended on myriad allegations.

He was issued with a letter last week.But a day before he was given the letter, he wrote to the office of the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) asking for her intervention.

In the letter seen by “The Mercury”, Mapholoba said he had become aware of the council’s intention to suspend him and in turn said efforts to do his job as the accounting officer had been stymied by the council’s interference.

In a council document discussing the intention to suspend the municipal manager, which “The Mercury” has seen, the mayor, Mzimkhulu Thebolla, detailed the allegations against Mapholoba.

“The purpose of this report is to inform the council on the serious allegations of misconduct which have been made against the municipal manager,” said the document.

It lists numerous allegations against Mapholoba. This included allegations of gross dishonesty or misrepresentation to council, related to a claim that he had commissioned investigations without the approval by council.

It also stated: “The municipal manager recommended an official from uMgungundlovu District Municipality to head the forensic unit on the premise that he had vast experience in the investigation and the legal field.

“Yet there is nothing in the curriculum vitae of the official concerned which demonstrates such vast experience.

“As far as the legal field is concerned, the curriculum vitae of this official only reflects him having performed administrative duties at the Eshowe Magistrate’s Court, neither does the CV reflect the basis upon which the municipal manager made the representation to council that (this official) has vast amounts of experience,” it said.

The council report further accused the municipal manager of acting without the authority of council where he had a legal duty to do so.

The report stated that the municipal manager had approved a R1.4-million settlement for two people who were being pursued by the municipality for wrongdoing. The report said that this was done without council approval and despite the fact that the municipality believed it had a good prospect of success against the two.

It also accused him of failing to act in the interests of the municipality by using a service provider who has a criminal matter pending against them.

He was further accused of permitting the incurring of irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and gross insubordination by failing to implement the outcome of an investigation in accordance with the council resolution.

In his letter to Cogta, Mapholoba raised concerns about interference in his job in the implementation of recommendations stemming from forensic investigations by Cogta.

“I have on several occasions brought to the attention of the mayor (Thebolla) several matters of non-compliance, financial misconduct, fraud and corruption with the express intention of tabling these matters in the meeting of the council.

“I am also experiencing interference with the implementation of S106 investigation by Cogta. To date I have been unsuccessful and I believe this is impeding and interfering with a rule of law and more especially, effective execution of my duties as the accounting officer,” said the letter.

Mapholoba told “The Mercury” on Sunday: “I am not suspended, I am currently at work. I have been asked to give reasons why I should not be suspended. I will be writing back to the council because all the decisions I took are backed by council resolution.”

ACDP councillor Rienus Niemand said they were shocked by the developments.

He dismissed the charges against the municipal manager, describing the process followed in trying to suspend the municipal manager as illegal.

“The ACDP calls for an immediate investigation and concrete steps to be taken against all the culprits misusing and abusing ratepayers’ money and not to leave any stone unturned in the process, “he said.

Thebolla said they would not comment as the matter was an internal municipal matter and the municipal manager was a municipal employee.

“If there is a need to share anything with the public, we will do so in conjunction with the municipal manager,” said Thebolla.

Cogta had not responded to a request for comment deadline on Monday.

The Mercury