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12 Jan 2009 05:00
Top African National Congress (ANC) officials in Mpumalanga decided last month to reinstate former Nelspruit municipal manager Jacob Dladla—despite serious corruption allegations against him related to 2010 World Cup tenders.
The revelation follows the murder of the man who blew the whistle on Dladla’s alleged activities, Nelspruit municipal speaker Jimmy Mohlala.
The Mail & Guardian possesses confidential minutes of a meeting last month at which top Mpumalanga ANC officials decided to reinstate Dladla.
The M&G reported last February that Mohlala, who had made the allegations against Dladla and constantly blocked efforts to reinstate him, had been targeted for disciplinary action by the ANC.
However, no action was taken against Dladla.
Mohlala was shot this week and his son injured in what is widely considered to be an assassination.
His family believes his principled stand may have cost him his life.
“We believe Jimmy’s role in fighting corruption is a strong possible motive for the murder. It was definitely not a normal crime,” said family spokesperson Pat Mohlala.
Mohlala had spearheaded internal Mbombela (Nelspruit) council probes into suspected irregularities in tenders for the city’s R1-billion World Cup stadium, and wider council maladministration.
He was also a vocal opponent of the council’s attempt to seize a community’s land for the stadium, in which it offered R1 for land worth R46-million.
Dladla was suspended in February after defying 361 council resolutions, many relating to the 2010 stadium contracts. An independent audit found that he also failed to declare his interest in one of the deal’s beneficiaries.
Dladla’s management of the city was so bad, says the report, that service delivery imploded, prompting residents to march on the provincial legislature.
The crisis forced the provincial government to place the council under curatorship, while the ANC fired the executive mayor, Justice Nsibande, and ordered Mohlala to step down in the interests of “impartiality”.
Mohlala refused, continuing to speak out against perceived corruption.
In late November ANC chief whip Wilson Nkosi tried to table a motion that the council reinstate Dladla immediately and drop all charges against him. Arguing that the motion was unprocedural Mohlala refused to allow it.
He dismissed Nkosi’s warning that the motion was based on instructions from the ANC’s regional executive committee, and insisted that even the ruling party had to follow procedures.
In December he confirmed receiving a string of death threats warning him to “mind his own business”, which he dismissed as “hot air” and “childish intimidation”. He also said suspicious-looking cars had been following him.
The secret meeting of ANC officials, at provincial ANC chairperson David Mabuza’s private residence on December 7, resolved that “the speaker’s [Mohlala] case be finalised by the disciplinary committee” before the 2009 elections.
The minutes show that the leaders instructed that Dladla be reinstated and “the ANC caucus be instructed by the deployment committee to stop the disciplinary hearing against the municipal manager [Dladla]”.
Attempts to reach Mabuza were unsuccessful.
Mbombela executive mayor Lassy Chiwayo told the M&G this week that others had also received death threats.
“Our acting municipal manager, Sgananda Siboza, received SMS threats warning him to watch his back. Siboza has also been trying to clean up the administration.
“I myself have received many threats. After a while you accept that as part of the job.”
Chiwayo is convinced that the murder was a professional hit linked to Mohlala’s whistle-blowing.
The provincial ANC described the killing as barbaric, while branding any suggestion that it was politically motivated as “irresponsible”.—African Eye News Service
Mpumalanga: the Wild Wild East
Political killings since 1998:
1998: Lekwa Municipality councillors Hebron Maisela and Sydney de Lange are murdered after questioning tenders and contracts. Unsolved.
2002: Saul Mkhwebane, PA to former Govan Mbeki Municipality (Secunda) mayor Mdibanisi Tsheke, reportedly commits suicide after an arson attack on the council’s finance office. Police say the aim was apparently to destroy evidence against senior officials.
2005: Govan Mbeki chief financial officer Joshua Ntshuhle vanishes before he is scheduled to testify about fraud in Tsheke’s discretionary fund. His car is found burned out in Malawi two years later.
2008: Govan Mbeki deputy mayor ThandI Mtsweni is gunned down after launching investigations into tender irregularities. Police arrest six suspects, including the municipality’s new mayor, Sipho Nkosi. Nkosi is later released for lack of evidence. Other suspects are in custody pending trial.
2008: Bushbuckridge mayor Milton Morema and municipal regional manager Lakios Mosoma are arrested in connection with the murder of a teacher and an alleged hitman. The case is struck off the court roll due to lack of evidence.
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