Durban - EThekwini Municipality speaker Thabani Nyawose has denied that city manager Musa Mbhele is facing a criminal investigation over tender irregularities.
Nyawose and Malusi Mhlongo, head of the City’s legal services, spoke to the media yesterday.
Nyawose is set to face a council motion for apparently misleading the council over a 2019 City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) investigation into Mbhele.
This after a notice of motion was lodged by Adec leader Visvin Reddy, who said the motion was directed at the speaker for misleading action.
In response to the notice of motion, Nyawose said it was in line with the rules of order and would be tabled at a council meeting to be held at the end of the month.
“Council will debate the notice of motion and vote on the matter,” Nyawose said. The speaker would excuse himself from the meeting as he was the subject of the notice of motion.
“In my response in the meeting I confirmed that a case was being investigated by the head of the CIIU, Mbuso Ngcobo, but there was no criminal case opened against the City manager.”
The Mercury has previously reported that a 2019 report issued by the CIIU allegedly implicated Mbhele in a violation of the Municipal Finance Management Act for entering into a Memorandum of Agreement that changed the terms of a tender contract without council approval.
It was further stated in the report that a former City employee had alleged that Mbhele had been paid by the service provider, and that the payments were made via his account. These allegations have been denied by Mbhele.
Mhlongo yesterday reiterated that there were no criminal charges against Mbhele.
“What has not been revealed in that report which was outsourced to independent and external investigators is that the conclusion they came to was that there was no prima facie evidence of corruption against the city manager.
“The whistle-blower indicated he was in a corrupt relationship with two individuals, including the city manager, and he was invited to come forward with the evidence to corroborate his claims and he did not do so. Hence the finding that there was no prima facie evidence linking the city manager to those corrupt activities.”
Mhlongo said that the report recommended that the matter should be reported to the police because of the serious nature of the allegations.
“If there is any substance to the allegations, any person who is implicated will then be dealt with. The mayor (Mxolisi Kaunda) instructed the head of CIIU, Ngcobo, to go to the police and report the matter,” Mhlongo said.
“If the police investigation finds something that implicates the city manager, then the mayor will take the appropriate steps.”
The issue of Mbhele’s appointment as city manager was raised by the National Working Committee of the ANC during a recent visit to the province amid allegations Mbhele was being probed for allegedly failing to disclose the ongoing CIIU investigation against him during his interview for the job.
Mhlongo said Mbhele had not misrepresented himself at the interview as he would have been unaware, at that stage, about the contents of the CIIU investigation.