Durban mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the audit was good news for the municipality. Picture: SUPPLIED
Durban mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the audit was good news for the municipality. Picture: SUPPLIED

Concerns over eThekwini’s outstanding spending reports

By Siboniso Mngadi Time of article published May 2, 2021

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Durban - Opposition parties in eThekwini Municipality have slammed the leadership of Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda for failing to hold senior officials accountable for irregular expenditure.

This was after the mayor had failed to present reports on investigations he had commissioned with regards to Covid-19 expenditure.

The City had been rocked with spending scandals since the country went on lockdown a year ago, but no one has been held accountable.

Among the outstanding report was the one relating to the R8 million that was spent on a controversial virtual concert while the country was on lockdown level 5.

The funds, according to the City’s reports, were used to pay for live-streaming, marketing and publicity, catering, furniture and decor, artist and motivational speakers among the items.

Kaunda, who stopped the concert when he found out about it, asked for the reports detailing all financial implications of the virtual concerts.

At the time, Kaunda said action would be taken should the reports found any wrongdoing and it would be made public.

However, the report has yet to be issued and no officials have been held accountable.

In February, the final audit report revealed that over R400 million was spent by the City with over R100 million irregular and about R75 million loss.

Kaunda referred the matter to the City Integrity and Investigative Unit (CIIU) and asked the report to be submitted before the end of March, but again, no reports had been released a month later after the initial deadline.

Mluleki Mtungwa, the mayoral spokesperson, when asked about accountability, said the reports would be presented before the council when they were complete.

He would not say when the reports will be ready or the reasons for the delays.

Nicole Graham, DA caucus leader, said the lack of transparency was an ongoing issue in the municipality even under Kaunda’s leadership.

“We never received a close-up report for the R8 million that was spent on the virtual concert which is very worrying. The final Covid-19 audit report is a concern because we were told different answers. As the DA, we have called for transparency.

“It cannot be that there is an investigation that goes somewhere that no one knows what is happening. It has to be open to the public whose money was spent. I do not think the mayor had covered himself in glory when it came to corruption. We need action and more timeous responses.

Mdu Nkosi, IFP exco member said it was disappointing that the mayor and his team came to the city to turn the situation around.

He claimed that things have remained the same when it comes to corruption and accountability in the city.

“It seems like whenever he is under pressure to account, he just calls for investigation but no action afterwards. When he was brought here we expected to change from what was happening in the previous leadership, but we are yet to see senior officials being suspended for their wrongdoings.

“The City coffers are squandered daily in useless programmes under Kaunda’s watch. I am confident that the CIIU has completed most of the report but they are kept under carpets to protect certain individuals. The unit would have to explain before their council if there were any challenges to complete the reports.

“He always emphasises zero tolerance when it comes to fraud and corruption but he has failed dismally to say the least. As a political head, we expect him to send a clear message by actions on officials, but he seems to be the one protecting them,” said Nkosi.

Sunday Tribune

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