Durban - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday evening called on the country's minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) to urgently intervene in the scandal-plagued eThekwini Municipality.
The party made the call just hours after allegations that an attempted poisoning of acting mayor Fawzia Peer may have taken place at a full council meeting earlier in the day.
"The municipality has become engulfed in chaos, following the extension of contracts to companies which are closely linked to Mayor Zandile Gumede, who has been placed on ‘special leave’, and Councillor Mondli Mthembu, who have been charged with fraud and corruption amounting to over R200 million," said the DA's Cogta shadow minister, Haniff Hoosen.
He said the DA's provincial leadership had written to the public protector’s office to alert it to the extension of the "dubious contracts". It was now up to national government to ensure the effective functioning of the municipality and that services continued unhindered, said Hoosen.
"Additionally, Auditor-General (AG) Kimi Makwetu stated yesterday that the AG’s leadership had to take the decision to suspend the audit process for the eThekwini Municipality, due to intimidation and threats. SAPS had to escort audit staff to the metro, while the municipality’s leadership had to intervene to restore calm and safety to enable the uninterrupted resumption of audit work.
"The audit findings concluded that eThekwini, along with the uThukela District, uMzinyathi District, uMkhanyakude District and Ugu District municipalities collectively accounted for R1.76 billion of the total disclosed irregular expenditure amount.
"Mayor Gumede’s dodgy dealings has led to the collapse of the municipality and for thuggery to become the order of the day. At Thursday’s Council sitting, the Speaker announced that some Councillors’ water bottles were compromised, and may have contained paraffin. We can rule this out as being a targeted attempt at poisoning members of the Council," said Hoosen.
At the Thursday sitting, ANC councillors in support of Gumede were videotaped confronting city manager Sipho Nzuza, who had to be shielded by his bodyguards. Nzuza was one of the people who, through the city’s integrity unit, initially provided information on the graft charges now being faced by Gumede. It is believed that Nzuza has now turned state witness in the case against the mayor. Gumede is currently out on R50 000 bail.
African News Agency (ANA)