Councillors in stadium revolt

Major financial irregularities in Mpumalanga’s R920-million 2010 World Cup stadium project have sparked an unprecedented revolt by ANC councillors in Nelspruit.

The angry councillors have rebelled against provincial party leaders and are demanding executive mayor Justice Nsibande’s head.

The demands, first made at a series of emergency meetings in Nelspruit to discuss R43-million in suspected irregular payments to contractors, were reaffirmed on Wednesday — despite an ANC provincial executive committee gag.

The payments were made to the province’s 2010 stadium construction facilitator, Lefika, and at least one sub-contractor.

Lefika executive director and Kaizer Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung refused to confirm or deny the payments.

‘I know nothing. I refuse to entertain questions on this matter and will not defend myself against these [smears] in the media,” he said.

Initial forensic investigations indicate that R43-million of R70-million in payments to Lefika were unauthorised and in breach of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Nsibande’s handling of the 2010 scandal and alleged misleading of councillors so outraged the ANC caucus that they passed a vote of no confidence in him and ordered him personally to repay any losses incurred by the taxpayer. The vote was supported by opposition parties.

The ANC councillors also publicly sanctioned Mbombela municipal manager Jacob Dladla for not managing his staff properly and fired the city’s 2010 co-ordinator, Differ Mogale.

The hard line caught Nsibande and the ruling party off-balance.

‘We don’t actually know what to say. This is the first ever vote of no confidence against a Mpumalanga ANC mayor by ANC councillors. They failed to consult party structures and we don’t know how to react,” said provincial ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane.

A shell-shocked Nsibande said he was still taking legal advice. ‘No acting mayor has been appointed in my place. Things are still very unclear and I am still waiting to hear exactly what is expected of me,” said Nsibande.

ANC regional secretary Sabelo Shabangu insisted the councillors had overstepped their political mandate and that the ANC was considering ‘corrective” measures.

‘These councillors acted without our support and their report to ANC structures on this issue is clearly one-sided and designed to pressure the party into expelling the mayor,” said Shabangu.

‘We will not let that happen, and will take internal [disciplinary] procedures against the councillors.”

But the ANC’s chief whip in the Mbombela council, Mfana Nkosi, insisted Nsibande and Dladla must be held accountable.

‘The 2010 project is a cornerstone of growth for our city’s future and the mayor began endangering it by breaking legislation and regulations governing municipalities. He stopped consulting his executive committee or the ANC caucus, and started taking decisions on his own,” said Nkosi.

‘When formally challenged on Mogale’s appointment, he misled council.”

Nkosi added that Mogale’s appointment was procedurally irregular and that any salary or expenses paid to him were out of line.

‘We have ordered Nsibande and Dladla to personally repay the council for Mogale’s salary over the past three months and refund council for all Mogale’s expenses during an unauthorised 2010 fact-finding trip to Dubai last year,” he said. The two men would be liable for repayments estimated at R200 000.

The Mpumalanga government has deployed senior government administrator, Johan Blaauw, as caretaker 2010 manager at Mbombela pending finalisation of a forensic audit.

The province is also investigating other tender fraud and maladministration allegations relating to the 2010 contract after a flood of complaints to national corruption hotlines.

Investigators have been interrogating municipal officials and combing through Mbombela’s procurement records since last week.

A letter signed by Local Government Minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini indicates her team is probing allegations of political interference in the 2010 process and Mbombela’s systematic failure to keep proper financial records on the project. — African Eye News ServiceCouncillors in stadium revolt

Allegations of corruption are at the root of a no-confidence vote against Nelspruit’s mayor

Zinkie Sithole and Justin Arenstein

Major financial irregularities in Mpumalanga’s R920-million 2010 World Cup stadium project have sparked an unprecedented revolt by ANC councillors in Nelspruit.

The angry councillors have rebelled against provincial party leaders and are demanding executive mayor Justice Nsibande’s head.

The demands, first made at a series of emergency meetings in Nelspruit to discuss R43-million in suspected irregular payments to contractors, were reaffirmed on Wednesday — despite an ANC provincial executive committee gag.

The payments were made to the province’s 2010 stadium construction facilitator, Lefika, and at least one sub-contractor.

Lefika executive director and Kaizer Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung refused to confirm or deny the payments.

‘I know nothing. I refuse to entertain questions on this matter and will not defend myself against these [smears] in the media,” he said.

Initial forensic investigations indicate that R43-million of R70-million in payments to Lefika were unauthorised and in breach of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Nsibande’s handling of the 2010 scandal and alleged misleading of councillors so outraged the ANC caucus that they passed a vote of no confidence in him and ordered him personally to repay any losses incurred by the taxpayer. The vote was supported by opposition parties.

The ANC councillors also publicly sanctioned Mbombela municipal manager Jacob Dladla for not managing his staff properly and fired the city’s 2010 co-ordinator, Differ Mogale.

The hard line caught Nsibande and the ruling party off-balance.

‘We don’t actually know what to say. This is the first ever vote of no confidence against a Mpumalanga ANC mayor by ANC councillors. They failed to consult party structures and we don’t know how to react,” said provincial ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane.

A shell-shocked Nsibande said he was still taking legal advice. ‘No acting mayor has been appointed in my place. Things are still very unclear and I am still waiting to hear exactly what is expected of me,” said Nsibande.

ANC regional secretary Sabelo Shabangu insisted the councillors had overstepped their political mandate and that the ANC was considering ‘corrective” measures.

‘These councillors acted without our support and their report to ANC structures on this issue is clearly one-sided and designed to pressure the party into expelling the mayor,” said Shabangu.

‘We will not let that happen, and will take internal [disciplinary] procedures against the councillors.”

But the ANC’s chief whip in the Mbombela council, Mfana Nkosi, insisted Nsibande and Dladla must be held accountable.

‘The 2010 project is a cornerstone of growth for our city’s future and the mayor began endangering it by breaking legislation and regulations governing municipalities. He stopped consulting his executive committee or the ANC caucus, and started taking decisions on his own,” said Nkosi.

‘When formally challenged on Mogale’s appointment, he misled council.”

Nkosi added that Mogale’s appointment was procedurally irregular and that any salary or expenses paid to him were out of line.

‘We have ordered Nsibande and Dladla to personally repay the council for Mogale’s salary over the past three months and refund council for all Mogale’s expenses during an unauthorised 2010 fact-finding trip to Dubai last year,” he said. The two men would be liable for repayments estimated at R200 000.

The Mpumalanga government has deployed senior government administrator, Johan Blaauw, as caretaker 2010 manager at Mbombela pending finalisation of a forensic audit.

The province is also investigating other tender fraud and maladministration allegations relating to the 2010 contract after a flood of complaints to national corruption hotlines.

Investigators have been interrogating municipal officials and combing through Mbombela’s procurement records since last week.

A letter signed by Local Government Minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini indicates her team is probing allegations of political interference in the 2010 process and Mbombela’s systematic failure to keep proper financial records on the project. — African Eye News Service

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Justin Arenstein
Justin Arenstein works from Africa. Investigative journalist & #CivicTech strategist. Manages innovation fund tech labs across Africa. Founder @afriLEAKS @Code4Africa @AfricanCIR @HHAfrica Justin Arenstein has over 7519 followers on Twitter.

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