eThekwini City Manager Sipho Nzuza in Durban Magistrate’s Court. File picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
eThekwini City Manager Sipho Nzuza in Durban Magistrate’s Court. File picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Council to decide Nzuza’s fate after city manager rearrested

By Siboniso Mngadi Time of article published Nov 22, 2020

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Durban - The top brass of eThekwini Municipality met on Saturday to negotiate new “working terms” for Sipho Nzuza, the beleaguered city manager who was rearrested this week for allegedly violating his bail conditions.

Robust engagement is expected when Nzuza’s latest application for special leave is tabled on Monday at a full council meeting.

The latest special leave application was triggered by Nzuza’s subsequent court appearance earlier this week, which left him with tighter bail conditions and minus some of his previous powers.

Nzuza has found himself languishing in the quagmire of personal labour-related issues for much of 2020. This after his arrest in March over fraud and corruption charges.

The charges relate to the R430 million Durban Solid Waste tender fiasco, the awarding of contracts allegedly under dubious circumstances, to various contractors in 2017.

Nzuza, along with former mayor Zandile Gumede and 16 others, are the accused in the matter. Nzuza was previously released on R50 000 bail.

He was placed on special leave for six months after the arrest while the city conducted its internal investigation, which is yet to be completed.

On September 28, he returned to work.

However, allegations have since surfaced that he had not adhered to some of his bail conditions, hence the arrest on Monday and appearance at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

He appeared before magistrate Garth Davis, and the investigating officer Colonel Ngoako Mphaki explained why Nzuza was rearrested.

After receiving complaints that Nzuza flouted his bail conditions, Mphaki said his investigations revealed that he had been in communication with witnesses in the DSW matter and conducted and chaired four virtual meetings where the said witnesses were participants.

His other alleged bail condition infringements included him being privy to the City Integrity and Investigations Unit’s (CIIU) matters, which included individuals who were implicated in the DSW matter.

And, in spite of having delegated his power of authority on supply chain management (SCM) duties, Mphaki claimed that Nzuza still called the shots and also approved tenders.

Mphaki said: “At all the virtual meetings, tenders were discussed, and he wanted to be kept abreast of all the developments on DC meetings.”

Magistrate Davis questioned why Nzuza had not used the appropriate channels for clarity on his bail conditions, including his hired legal team.

Nzuza’s bail conditions were amended further, which now prevents his involvement with disciplinary matters. He is also not to be directly or indirectly involved in any SCM process.

Davis reminded him of the context in which his bail conditions were set, and if he breached them, he ran the risk of it being cancelled and remaining in custody for the duration of the trial.

Nzuza told the Sunday Tribune yesterday that the media’s “inaccurate” reporting portrayed him as an “unruly” official.

He maintained that he complied with his bail conditions. He said he had applied for more special leave, which has to be approved by the full Council.

“I will be meeting with the mayor and top leaders to discuss my working terms that will allow me to do my work without infringing bail conditions.

“I have decided to take further special leave until my next court appearance on December 10 where my bail conditions could be amended.

“To ensure that I don’t violate any of them, I have decided to remain at home to avoid arrest,” he said.

Mluleki Mntungwa, mayoral spokesperson, was not prepared to divulge the outcome of yesterday’s meeting between Nzuza and Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.

Opposition parties called for transparency from the city’s leadership as Nzuza’s matter would take centre stage in tomorrow’s meeting.

Nicole Graham, DA caucus leader, said they have called for Nzuza’s removal, but he enjoyed the protection of the ruling party, ANC.

“They (leadership) must let the elected council decide Nzuza’s fate. The mayor has acted as Nzuza’s manager, which is wrong. He has been acting in violation of his bail conditions, in signing off on tenders.

“We also called for his removal from all supply chain and finance duties. Tomorrow, we expect council to take decision in the interest of ratepayers,” said Graham.

Mdu Nkosi, IFP caucus leader, said it was up to the ANC to remove the city manager as the majority in the council: “There is no transparency. There is infighting within the ruling party. It’s sad that ratepayers are the ones who are suffering. Nzuza called on the ANC to act with a conscience,” said Nkosi.

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