Simphiwe Duma will head the newly formed trading services cluster in the eThekwini municipality, this comes after he was dismissed as Chief executive of TIA following a damning audit report. Photo: Supplied
Simphiwe Duma will head the newly formed trading services cluster in the eThekwini municipality, this comes after he was dismissed as Chief executive of TIA following a damning audit report. Photo: Supplied

Top official’s questionable past

By Sihle Manda Time of article published Aug 14, 2015

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Durban - A former government entity chief executive, dismissed after he was fingered in a damning forensic audit report, has landed a plum job with the eThekwini Municipality.

Last year, while chief executive of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Simphiwe Duma was dismissed after a Deloitte forensic investigation found him guilty of nepotism, intimidation of external auditors, and irregular investment and procurement transactions. TIA is an entity of the Department of Science and Technology.

The municipality announced on Thursday that the appointment of two deputy city managers, Duma and Philemon Mashoko.

Duma will head the newly formed trading services cluster while Mashoko will lead the human settlements, engineering services and transport cluster. The positions each carry a salary package of about R1.7m a year and the two are on five-year contracts.

The two men were appointed after the enormous human settlements and infrastructure portfolio was divided into two. It accounts for the biggest chunk of the city’s budget.

A simple Google search revealed that Duma had a tainted past.

Both appointments were approved during a special council meeting in Mpumalanga township on Thursday. DA provincial and eThekwini caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango admitted that he and his colleague had approved of Duma’s appointment at an earlier executive council meeting, but now they were seeking clarity on his past.

Speaker Logie Naidoo objected to this, saying Mncwango was using the wrong platform.

Mncwango, who admitted that the appointments were “long overdue”, said a DA colleague had given him some information and he wanted to seek “clarity”.

“I just want to ask, in terms of Simphiwe Duma, is it the same person who was working for the Technology Innovation Agency. I see he was suspended for nepotism, intimidation of external auditors, and irregular investment. I just want to check.”

Naidoo responded: “The matters relating to the individuals are discussed within the interview or by the members of the executive committee. You can’t come to a public forum now and we’ve made a decision on the appointment. It is improper.”

Mncwango conceded that the matter had been discussed earlier “and I did recommend appointment”, but he had not been privy to certain information.

He asked that Duma’s appointment be deferred. The request was dismissed by ANC councillors.

“It’s been outstanding for too long. The posts were advertised last year,” Naidoo said.

Other opposition parties welcomed the appointments, saying they were “long overdue”.

A seething deputy mayor, Nomvuzo Shabalala, called Mncwango to order and tried to clarify the recruitment process.

She said: “Firstly, for the senior positions, when a person has to be interviewed we take a psychometric test to test the individual’s fitness. We then interview them and they are scored by all members of the executive committee on how the candidate has performed.

“Secondly, we check in the interview if there are problematic matters that could prevent that person from being employed. That person must tell us.”

She said Duma declared to the interview panel that he had a case with his previous employer.

City manager S’bu Sithole said the municipality “attempted” to talk to the TIA board “but unfortunately most of the people who worked with him have left”.

“And there was no co-operation from the chief executive,” he said.

According to media reports at the time, Deloitte found that Duma had “irregularly appointed his wife to the agency as marketing and branding general manager”.

The “probe found that the now-axed chief executive had pushed through an Nguni cattle project based in Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s home village even though it was outside TIA’s mandate”, a Business Day report read.

Earlier, the city had tried to fill the post with Slindokuhle Radebe, a former Ekurhuleni Municipality water and sanitation chief director, but the appointment was rescinded after it emerged he had been suspended in 2012 after a Special Investigating Unit probe into a R100 million tender.

The KZN Health Department blundered this year in the appointment of its chief financial officer, Ndoda Biyela. His post has been occupied by an acting CFO after it emerged he had been suspended by the Gauteng Health Department for alleged tender irregularities.

The Mercury

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