The eThekwini municipalitys has landed in hot water again, after supposedly failing to do proper background checks on officials. Pictured, is Slindokuhle Hadebe, the new human settlements and infrastructure deputy city manager.

Durban - The eThekwini municipality’s housing and infrastructure departments – plagued by allegations of irregular expenditure and flouting of the supply chain management policy – have a new deputy city manager who was suspended from his previous job because of a tender fraud probe.

At a full council meeting last week, it was announced that Slindokuhle Hadebe, the former chief director of water and sanitation at the Ekurhuleni municipality, had been appointed as the human settlements and infrastructure deputy city manager.

According to last year’s budget, the salary package for the post is about R1.6 million.

On Tuesday, DA executive committee member Tex Collins, who was part of the panel that interviewed Hadebe, said he had written a letter to municipal manager S’bu Sithole and mayor James Nxumalo about Hadebe’s appointment and asked why information about his suspension had not been provided by him or the personnel consultants during the interview.

Collins said he had information that Hadebe and four other Ekurhuleni officials had been suspended in July after a Special Investigating Unit probe had been launched into the awarding of a water meters tender worth more than R100 million.

Ekurhuleni municipal spokesman Sam Modiba confirmed that Hadebe was on suspension with full pay.

“The municipality placed the officials on suspension to allow for further investigations in the matter,” he said.

Modiba said they were not aware of Hadebe’s new post.

Collins said that during the interview process he had expressed his reservations about Hadebe.

“He was not my first choice. I would have preferred someone who was more familiar with the city. The failure to disclose this information during the interviewing process is considered a very serious omission specifically engineered to ensure a favourable result, and one which renders his pending appointment null and void,” he said.

He urged the city’s senior management to take action and said he believed that Hadebe should not be employed by eThekwini in any circumstances.

The post has been vacant since June when the council decided not to renew Derek Naidoo’s contract soon after the release of the Manase report into fraud and corruption in the city.

Naidoo was fingered in the report for transgressions relating to eThekwini’s massive irregular expenditure.

The report called for disciplinary action as it said he had failed to comply with supply chain management policies and the Municipal Finance Management Act, and for failing to show care and diligence in dealing with matters before the bid adjudication committee. However, he never faced any disciplinary charges.

The eThekwini mayor, James Nxumalo, said the city and the interview panel had not been aware of Hadebe’s suspension from his previous job.

Nxumalo said the city would do its own investigations and make a decision.

“It must be noted that the successful candidates are only expected to start work in about two months time and this will give us enough time to conclude background checks and other relevant information.”

Efforts to contact Hadebe on a cellphone number he had while at the Ekurhuleni municipality failed this week and he could not be reached for comment.

This is not the first time the city has landed in hot water for failing to do proper background checks on officials. Last year, municipal health department head Nomakhosi Gxagxisa had to be reassigned to the office of the deputy city manager after it emerged that she had been employed in 2009 although she was not registered with the Health Professions Council of SA, as required by the post.

She returned to her position in May this year after registering with the health council. - The Mercury