Chris Pappas, the mayor of the uMngeni Municipality and the Democratic Alliance candidate for Premier of KwaZulu-Natal has launched a fight back against allegations that he helped his fiancé score a tourism contract with his municipality.
This, after former DA provincial leader, Sizwe Mchunu wrote to the Public Protector on Wednesday to investigate claims swirling online that Pappas’ fiancé was given R100,000 in funding for his tourism business.
Responding to the allegations on East Coast Radio on Wednesday night, Pappas said the business the allegations are made against was only registered a month ago.
“So it's impossible for this particular company to have got tenders two years ago as they're talking about. Number two, we've never put out a tourism tender as the municipality so there's no money that happened to move. Number three, the organisation that they talk about, it's actually a community tourism organisation that… has been getting money from the municipality for years, before I even started,” he said.
The allegations of corruption come just days after the DA announced Pappas as their candidate for premier of the province following his work at the uMngeni Municipality which he was able to turn around financially, coupled with his massive popularity.
Central to the Mchunu - who left the DA to join the ANC - complaint is an allegation there is preferential treatment given to Pappas’ fiancé suggesting it forms the basis for a nepotism and corruption inquiry against Pappas and the municipality.
Mchunu alleges in his complaint to the Public Protector that a few weeks before uMngeni Municipality closed for December holidays in 2022 (December 11), Pappas financé’s organisation received a whopping R100,000, four months before the end of the council’s financial year.
“Besides this being a precedent that has never occurred in uMngeni Municipality, the amount granted… far exceeds any of the grants given to the other entities advocating for a similar venture.”
Speaking to IOL, Mchunu confirmed that he had written to the Public Protector and defended the fact that he had based his letter to the Public Protector’s office from allegations made online by an unnamed individual.
“Whether it is an unnamed source or not, the fact is that such serious allegations are out to the public domain and it has to be accounted for,” Mchunu said.
“Those allegations are very, very incriminating. There's a whole lot of other issues surrounding Pappas who is made to be holier than everyone else in the media. And so when such allegations are brought to the fore, and he is not coming clean about them, then there is a duty to report it to the Public Protector, because who else but the Public Protector can investigate them?”