Ekurhuleni boss throws down the gauntlet

Forty days before the election, Ekurhuleni’s city manager Patrick Flusk has threatened to dissolve the municipality’s council unless the ANC acts decisively against mayor Lentheng Mekgwe and her councillors. In an open letter to the ANC’s regional executive committee Flusk accuses Mekgwe, Ekurhuleni officials and councillors of waging an ”orchestrated campaign” against him.

This includes investigating him, planting dirt on him ”or whatever is necessary to ensure my removal by hook or crook” from office for obvious reasons”. This, Flusk claims, was done because he had uncovered ”considerable and wide-spread contravention” of municipal legislation, systems and controls. The ANC’s regional secretary-general Bobo Mokoena confirmed the letter and said it would be discussed at an ANC meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Flusk has commissioned forensic investigations into controversial land deals in Ekurhuleni and into alleged fraud committed at the municipality’s workshops. Damning reports from these investigations were handed over to the council in September last year, but so far no action has been taken. Instead, the council ordered the forensic reports be independently assessed and resolved that Ekurhuleni should no longer employ Pasco Risk Management, which compiled the reports.

Some of Pasco’s more sensational findings were that Ekurhuleni councillors personally benefited from a luxury development in Meyersdal which they had approved. In his letter Flusk doesn’t refer to specific findings, but says he believes the investigations only uncovered ”the tip of the proverbial iceberg”.

On the face of it, senior officials, ANC and opposition councillors, have manipulated information and caused our council to take decisions that it would not have taken bona fide and these decisions have improperly benefited provincial office bearers, councillors, officials and other parties.” Flusk claims to have told Mekgwe repeatedly that the municipality had suffered losses of almost R1-billion due to irregularities.

His approaches have been ”downplayed, avoided or simply brushed aside”. Flusk says he was advised by the ”most senior office bearers of the [ANC]” to bring this information to the party’s regional office bearers, to firmly stand against corruption and to appeal to Ekurhuleni’s leadership to take action without delay.

The only alternative action that I have open to consider, which I am loathe to do, is to place the matter before law enforcement agencies to take whatever action they deem appropriate and, in my capacity as city manger, approach the high court for a declaratory order to confirm my powers and dissolve council pending new by-elections, which may cause unnecessary and avoidable embarrassment to us all,” Flusk wrote.

His letter comes a week after Mekgwe ”requested” Ekurhuleni’s acting city manager Peta Mashinini to ”finalise” the Meyersdal land deal matter while Flusk was on leave. Mashinini told the M&G she had ”chosen to interpret the letter to be a request and not an instruction”. She told Mekgwe this.

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Yolandi Groenewald
Yolandi Groenewald
Yolandi Groenewald is a South African environmental reporter, particularly experienced in the investigative field. After 10 years at the Mail & Guardian, she signed on with City Press in 2011. Her investigative environmental features have been recognised with numerous national journalism awards. Her coverage revolves around climate change politics, land reform, polluting mines, and environmental health. The world’s journey to find a deal to address climate change has shaped her career to a great degree. Yolandi attended her first climate change conference in Montreal in 2005. In the last decade, she has been present at seven of the COP’s, including the all-important COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. South Africa’s own addiction to coal in the midst of these talks has featured prominently in her reports.

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