Report ranks eThekwini Municipality fourth in SA for local government corruption complaints

A report by Corruption Watch based on whistle-blower complaints has been ranked eThekwini Municipality fourth in the country among municipalities that are allegedly “rife with corruption”.

Durban City Hall. File Picture: Terry Haywood

Published Aug 19, 2021


DURBAN - THE eThekwini Municipality has been ranked fourth in the country among municipalities that are allegedly “rife with corruption”.

A report by Corruption Watch based on whistle-blower complaints said it had received about 166 complaints alleging corruption in the municipality.

But the municipality’s political leadership said it was working hard to root out corruption and maladministration.

The report – called “South Africa Needs Clean Hands” – was released yesterday. It highlights corruption issues that have plagued municipalities in South Africa for almost 10 years.

Between 2012 and 2020, said Corruption Watch, it had received 32 998 whistle-blower reports, of which 16% contained allegations of corruption within the local spheres of government.

Most complaints stem from Gauteng (41%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (11%), with 8% of reports each from Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West.

The City of Johannesburg topped the list followed by Ekurhuleni, the City of Tshwane, eThekwini Municipality and the City of Cape Town.

The most common forms of corruption reported were bribery (28%), procurement irregularities (24%), employment irregularities (11%), abuse of power (9%) and embezzlement of funds (8%). It said in 2020, it received a record number of 857 whistle-blower allegations relating to corruption within the local government.

“We also saw a 50% increase in cases stemming from the Eastern Cape, Free State, KZN and the Western Cape, compared to the previous year,” it said.

In eThekwini, it said 27% of the reports related to allegations of bribery, 18% to irregularities in the procurement process, 9% to abuse of power, 8% to embezzlement and stealing of funds, and 7% to bribes for tenders.

“What is evident in the majority of corruption cases relating to local governance is that South Africa, broadly, has a leadership crisis,” said Melusi Ncala, CW researcher and author of the report.

“Politicians and administrators alike are serving personal, factional and private interests. Not even a global pandemic could make them pause and think about the people they promised to serve.”

eThekwini mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said they had not seen the report, but the city’s administration did not tolerate corruption

“The current leadership remains committed to rooting out fraud and corruption in the municipality. This is demonstrated by the reduction of irregular expenditure the city has reported in the last financial year. We are also fast tracking cases of officials involved in maladministration, from 2019. The city has reported a progress of 74% in processing these cases,” he said.

Local government expert Lionel Pienaar

said the findings by Corruption Watch were not surprising, and based on the size of the city’s budget, it would always have a lot more issues than the other local municipalities.

He said the situation was likely to remain grim and that it was up to conscientious people to take up the matter and lay criminal charges.

Provincial manager of the SA Local Government Association, Sabelo Gwala, said the fact that people were reporting allegations of corruption was a positive sign that they were rejecting it.

He said it was important to determine whether the people that had reported these incidents to Corruption Watch had first reported them to municipalities and were not satisfied with the results and then proceeded to report them to an outside body.

He said this was important because it would determine whether there were enough safeguards within municipalities that allowed people to report wrongdoing.