George Mari, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
DESPITE media reports claiming that KZN COGTA MEC, Nomusa Dube, called a clandestine meeting with senior officials and ANC Provincial Secretary Sihle Zikalala on the eve of the release of the sanitized version of the Manase report, the MEC has flatly denied such a meeting.
The denial forms the basis of a parliamentary reply to questions posed by the DA. Further questions include who was present, the reason for the meeting, what was discussed at the meeting, whether it was ethical or legal to convene such a meeting, whether officials or councilors fingered in the report received an assurance from the MEC that they would not be “named and shamed” and whether those present were given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. The final question to the MEC is why only a select group of officials were allegedly invited to the meeting. The MEC’s denials should set off alarm bells for Ethekwini ratepayers. The DA believes that it points to the protection of certain ANC officials and councilors, a claim supported by the fact that, despite numerous efforts by the party to ensure the release of the Manase report, it remains hidden from public view.
The DA is also disappointed by a different reply from the MEC, to questions posed in connection with Ethekwini’s earlier Ngubane Report in which she indicates the unlikelihood of this document ever being released. In the reply, the MEC states that since the Ngubane report was instituted by the municipality itself, any information pertaining thereto remains the property of the municipality. She further states that she cannot make the information available to the public because it is not within her ambit of control.
The question is – why is the MEC, as head of local government in KwaZulu-Natal, bowing to the wishes of a local municipality in the face of serious allegations of rampant fraud and corruption? The consequences of such conduct within the province’s largest municipality cannot be under-estimated and ratepayers have a right to know what has been going on. The MEC must commit to complete transparency.