The uMngeni local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal has come out to defend Chris Pappas, its mayor who is accused of nepotism by giving business deals to his “partner,” Jean Pierre Prinsloo who is known as JP.
The municipality says this is a smear campaign which was clearly sparked by the DA’s announcement that Pappas will be its premier candidate in KwaZulu-Natal for the 2024 elections.
IOL contacted Pappas after the allegations were made and widely circulated on social media to get his side of the story.
Among those who amplified the allegations was Sizwe Mchunu, a former leader of the DA in KwaZulu-Natal who later defected to the ANC.
Mchunu even wrote a letter to the Public Protector asking for a probe of the matter saying the allegations are too serious to be left untested.
However, Pappas told IOL they were “lies” and referred all questions to the Speaker of the municipality, Janis Holmes to whom some of the declarations were made.
In one declaration which has since been made public following the allegations, Pappas is that he is no longer in a relationship with Prinsloo who is said to be benefiting tenders from the municipality.
It was also revealed that uMngeni Tourism (formally Howick uMngeni Tourism) is a registered NPO (non-profit organisation) that has a relationship with uMngeni Municipality that predates Chris Pappas’ tenure as mayor.
Prinsloo was elected through the community as the chairperson of uMngeni Tourism before Pappas was the mayor of uMngeni Municipality and he resigned from the position in July 2023.
“uMngeni Tourism is a community tourism organisation (CTO) that is managed by an independent board and is not a part of the municipality
“uMngeni Tourism is the only tourism organisation that submits Audited Financials as part of the tourism support programme,” the office of the Speaker said.
It added that there had been no tenders issued.
“There have been no Tourism related tenders in uMngeni Municipality which is contradictory to the allegations.
“The company (allegedly owned by Prinsloo) that is referred to in the post was only registered in August 2023.
"This contradicts the allegations that the company has been actively benefiting from non-existent tenders since December 2021,” the office of the Speaker further said.
Furthermore, it said any possible conflicts of interest were reported by Pappas.
Two letters supporting that assertion were attached.
The first letter was written to the Municipal Manager, Muzi Hloba and Holmes on January 4, 2022.
In it, Pappas explained that Prinsloo was re-elected to the position to lead Umngeni Community Tourism Organisation and he was duty-bound to declare that conflict of interest.
In the letter, he added that Prinsloo was elected to the position even before he got elected as the mayor of the municipality in November 2021.
In March 2023, Prinsloo and Pappas separated, and he declared that and it was publicly recorded in the register of interests.
“The first is to inform you that I am no longer in any form of relationship with Mr Jean-Pierre Prinsloo, the chairperson of the board of Umgeni Tourism.
“This regrettable separation thus removes all conflicts of interest,” reads the letter.
The office of the Speaker said Prinsloo declared he had relationship with both the board of uMngeni Tourism and the Municipal Portfolio Committee.
“The report was accepted by all political parties (including DA, ANC and EFF).
“The allegations have been made by a fake account with no way to verify anything that is being said. This is called fake news.”