Sizwe Mchunu, MPP
Leader of the DA in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature
THE Democratic Alliance will today write to KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Zweli Mkhize, to demand clarity following an allegation that bail of R100 000- to secure the release of KZN Economic Development Tourism (EDT) MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu – was paid from ministry funds.
The MEC and KZN Legislature Speaker, Peggy Nkonyeni, are due to stand trial on charges of fraud and racketeering as part of the “Three Amigo’s” Intaka water purification plant scandal. According to a Sunday newspaper report, Mabuyakhulu’s bail was paid in cash by EDT senior staff member, S’manga Sethene, after the MEC was granted bail in August last year. The department has yet to provide proof that the money was not derived from public funds.
The claim comes amid further allegations that Alex McRoberts – director of World Freight Services (SA) – who allegedly colluded with now suspended Dube TradePort CEO Rohan Persad in a series of suspected corrupt activities – may have provided the funds for the bail. The office of the MEC has rejected the claim but has confirmed that Mabuyakhulu and Persad were partners in an investment company set up in 2003 – the same time that Persad was appointed CEO and when Mabuyakhulu was KZN Public Works MEC.
Not only are these allegations extremely serious – they are a massive blow to the integrity of the provincial government and the Premier must act quickly to restore any credibility. As the DA we expect him to grill MEC Mabuyakhulu and to move to dispel the current uncertainty over the origin of the bail funds. The DA will also submit a written parliamentary question to MEC Mabuyakhulu regarding the origin of these funds. The MEC is under oath to provide us with answers to these questions and we expect to have them within the next two weeks.
As the DA we are determined to get to the bottom of these allegations and expect the Premier to suspend both MEC Mabuyakhulu and Speaker Nkonyeni with immediate effect pending the outcome of the trial. It is intolerable that either should continue to hold positions of power in the face of damning accusations.
Using taxpayers’ money to fund civil servants accused of crime or maladministration conveys the message that politicians and influential people can do as they want. Politicians are voted into office to uphold the law, not to have their legal expenses paid for by taxpayers. Provincial government must not under-estimate the people of KwaZulu-Natal, who are sick and tired of rampant nepotism and fraud – time is running out for corrupt politicians.