Opposition party the Democratic Alliance has given eThekwini’s Mayor James Nxumalo until Friday 17 February to provide it with the full Manase report into fraud, corruption and maladministration in the municipality – or it will apply legally for a copy.
The DA is concerned that the allegedly 700-page report will go the same way as the Ngubane report, which is believed to have questioned R3.5-billion worth of eThekwini contracts over the last 10 years, but was never released publically after it was dismissed in 2011 by then municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe has been implicated in the Manase report for not reporting fraud and corruption.
The DA has also called for any councillor or municipal official implicated in “fraud or tender rigging” in the Manase report to be “immediately suspended pending the outcome of a full investigation”.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday 15 February, DA KwaZulu-Natal provincial leader Sizwe Mchunu, as well as the DA eThekwini caucus leader Tex Collins and DA chief whip Dean Macpherson, among others, said it was unacceptable that the executive committee had received a slide show presentation of the full report behind closed doors – but no physical report.
The remaining eThekwini councillors received the same press release issued to the media by Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube last week, “leaving the majority of councillors, residents and the media in the dark about the exact nature of the investigation and findings”, the DA said in a statement on Tuesday 14 February.
The DA said such a decision gave weight to speculation that “selective extracts of the report have been released against specific individuals while hiding the names of some very senior African National Congress politicians and officials”.
The statement goes on to say: “The DA feels a report of this nature can simply not be allowed to go into the archives of the City Hall under lock and key as was seen with the controversial Ngubane report, which the former city manager refused to release. To this day, the content of that report has never been made public.”
Corruption Watch director David Lewis said on Wednesday: “Access to information is a critical ingredient in any attempt to stamp out corruption. Elected officials and public servants should not feel that they are entitled to, in any way, withhold information pertinent to addressing corruption.”
The DA warned on Tuesday that should Mayor Nxumalo not “do the right thing” and make the document public, they would launch a Promotion of Access to Information application through both the provincial legislature and the eThekwini municipality.
The mayor’s spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said he had not been in the office and had not seen the DA letter. The municipal manager’s office also said it was not aware of the document and could not comment.
DA eThekwini caucus leader Tex Collins said on Wednesday that the party had been questioning the process behind the awarding of some contracts since 2003.
Among those questioned was the Revenue Management System project, which has cost eThekwini R485-million to date, after initially being quoted at a cost of R90- to R150-million in 2004. It has still not been implemented.
“At the next full council meeting on 29 February, the DA will be calling for the adoption of a motion that will make tender processes completely transparent and allow the public to scrutinise the process of tender adjudications and awarding of contracts,” said Collins.