Corruption is a 'treasonous' crime against humanity, says Newcastle mayor
Durban - Newcastle Local Municipality Mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba has slammed those he believes are looting and scavanging off municipal coffers and called for them to be deemed “criminals against humanity”. The mayor also wants such corruption to be treated as a treasonous crime.
Mahlaba said that for the greater part of 2019 and the beginning of this year, the municipality had relentlessly implored residents to join calls to fight corruption and bring culprits to book.
This comes in the wake of the municipality’s decision to pursue disciplinary measures against over 200 employees who had abused its overtime system to garner underserved overtime pay in the region of R5.8 million and those who had abused the council’s petrol card.
“If we don’t interrogate malfeasance, incompetence and corruption, then we might as well close shop and live in a lawless society. However, as a municipality, we’ve committed ourselves to walking this path, no matter how uncomfortable it makes the crook.
“History will judge us harshly if we turn a blind eye to corruption or abandon any efforts of retrieving taxpayers monies which were embezzled through dodgy dealings. We can no longer treat corrupt individuals with kid gloves or be soft on them,” said Mahlaba in a statement.
He said municipal funds, when channelled to the wrong places rob the elderly from getting the better life which their administration had promised them, while corruption deprived the town’s residents from getting proper basic service delivery.
“We are well aware that our efforts are being challenged in the form of bedlam and anarchy. We’ve touched a very sensitive nerve but we remain resolute in our commitment of not failing our residents.
“It’s only now that those who milked the municipal coffers dry are being made aware of the impact of their actions. This administration is unceasing in its efforts to dismantle a network of patronage, which only benefited the few in the past and shut out the people it was supposed to serve. Now that we’ve been given an opportunity to reverse this callous act, we will not hesitate,” Mahlaba said.
He added that in their quest to ensure that the municipality functioned efficiently they also beseeched municipal staff, ward councillors and officials to serve the public impeccably and that they had opted to take a strong stance against mediocrity and incompetence.
Mahlaba added that they were also fully aware of the financial challenges that they faced as a municipality and that they had been working tirelessly to attend to those financial challenges although some of the financial woes had been “created by the same people who claim to be fighting for the community”.
“We’ve just concluded our strategic planning session, which saw the adoption of critical strategies to counter our challenges, including introducing mechanisms which will see to the acceleration of fixing outdated infrastructure.
“Last week the municipality achieved an ‘Unqualified Audit Outcome’ and next year we are aiming for the much coveted ‘Clean Audit Outcome’. To demonstrate that we are serious about providing uncompromisingly superior services to our residents, collectively we’ve proposed that municipal officials, including myself and the municipal manager, to accompany municipal workers to all areas within the municipality,” Mahlaba said.
He said that this was in a bid to engage residents and see where the council could improve service delivery, with townships in Newcastle such as Madadeni, Osizweni and Blaauwbosch being the key areas that had been earmarked.
He also said that their key priority would be to accompany units from the water, electricity and waste collection departments to the the three townships.
“We’ve further proposed to hold public gatherings and consultations, with the aim of attaining first-hand accounts of community complaints and grievances. We also want to tackle the issue of litter, and urge our residents not to despair, as grease and grime is top of our agenda.
“The municipality is in the process of launching its whatsapp line to report on critical issues and will allow residents to report on issues affecting the community. The line will give the municipality the opportunity to report on job advertisements, municipal news and programs to accelerate service delivery,” said Mahlaba. .