Newcastle mayor vows to tackle corruption
Durban - Newcastle Local Municipality mayor Dr. Ntuthuko Mahlaba has taken a hard stance on corruption in the municipality, vowing to come down hard on those that have milked the municipalities coffers through corruption.
This has come with the blessing of the ANC KZN’s officials who have told the council’s leadership not to back down in its fight against corruption in the municipality.
The ANC KZN leadership last week said that it fully backed the municipality’s decision to pursue disciplinary measures against employees who had abused its overtime system to garner underserved overtime pay and those who had abused the council’s petrol card.
The municipality was last month plagued by violent protests, with several shops being looted as a result of the community being unhappy that the municipality had dismissed some 200 employees.
At a post ANC KZN lekgotla press conference last week, provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said that amongst other issues that the municipal leadership had been fighting was a terrible abuse of the overtime system in some of the municipal facilities.
“In the course of the investigation, the ANC leadership in the municipality, discovered that some people who were entitled to make use of the municipality’s petrol card were abusing it.
“There’s an example of a petrol card meant to be used by an ordinary vehicle paying for diesel to the tune of 400 litres at a go and it was quite clear to the leadership of the municipality that there is not car, unless it’s a truck, that can consume 400 litres of diesel at a go. Clearly there is something wrong there, there is an act of corruption that is taking place,” Ntuli said.
He added that the municipality had also discovered that over a sustained period the municipality had been spending in the region of R5.8 million monthly paying overtime.
Ntuli upon investigating this it was discovered that some municipal workers had successfully manipulated the overtime to their benefit even when they had not done any additional work to qualify for overtime.
“When the leadership raised that with the workers and said that they would suspend those involved, the workers were unhappy, and that unfortunately led to what then became a public protest.
“This (protest) was, in our own analysis, the rest of the workers who were not guilty of anything or suspected of having done anything wrong deciding to act in solidarity with their fellow colleagues who were inevitably going in contrary with the law,” Ntuli said.
He said that the municipality’s leadership, led by Mahlaba, then reported these events to the ANC KZN officials who asserted that the municipality should not waive on matters of corruption and crime and instead investigate and that those who are found to have done anything inconsistent with the law should face the consequences.
He said that due to the majority of workers opting to act in solidarity with the few of their colleagues who were charged, the municipality was left in a situation where over 300 workers abandoned their work and disengaged from work trying to ensure that they used their labour as bargaining chip for the municipality to retain the charged workers.
“That is a matter that is causing a bit of instability in the municipality and that is a challenge that is making it difficult for the municipality to operate because and we will not allow a situation where the disengagement of the workers to justify the failure to act on wrongdoing,” said Ntuli.
He added that they had urged the municipality to engage those workers who had not been charged of anything to return to work and allow those meant to face disciplinary measure to face the law.
Mayor Mahlaba told Independent Media that there were several ongoing investigations in the ANC led municipality, with some about to be completed, and that reports of the investigations would be processed without any fear of favour as the council wanted government institutions to be respected.
Mahlaba said government institutions sometimes collapsed because leadership structures wanted to play to the gallery and appease those involved in wrongdoing and added that they would not tolerate any form of wrongdoing.
“The first thing that the ANC does not want to get itself involved with is corruption, and secondly the ANC in the province has committed itself to fighting corruption no matter what and to ensure there shouldn’t be a governmental place of work where there should be anarchy, ill-discipline and where people do as they please.
“Having said that, we also respect the rights of the workers and workers should in return respect their place of work and there shouldn’t be anyone doing things that are against the law in the workplace,” Mahlaba said.