Municipal officials suspended

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Inkatha Freedom Party mayor Elphas Khoza and four senior officials, including municipal manager and chief financial officer at Utrecht municipality, have been suspended for fraud and corruption.

KwaZulu-Natal's cabinet took the decision after a senior official in the rural municipality failed to act on charges of fraud and corruption levelled against some officials.

An angry Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, pictured, said he had used his power to appoint Thando Tubane as acting manager on a consultancy basis.

Mabuyakhulu told a media gathering at the Hilton Hotel in Durban, that the cabinet took the "extraordinary decision" to assume executive functions of the municipality after realising the administration had collapsed.

The municipality was given a forensic report to probe and report back on in the department within 21 days, but it was ignored.

Mabuyakhulu described the actions of the executive council led by Khoza as "arrogant and intransigent" for failing to report back to the department.

"The mayor did not act on the allegations seriously implicating him and the municipal manager," he said.

"The alleged fraud amounts to R1million, but the money did not force the government to act on the matter," he said.

The impoverished municipality is being run on a budget of R20million.

"Losing a million rand is a lot because it cripples service delivery," said Mabuyakhulu.

Opposition cries that Mabuyakhulu only acted in IFP-run municipalities were described as "nonsense".

"My actions against municipal maladministration, fraud, corruption and malpractice are the same no matter which party is in the majority," he said.