'Ratepayers money spent on ANC rally'

THE DA in KwaZulu-Natal has called for an investigation into allegations that senior officials in the Msunduzi municipality in Pietermaritzburg spent more than R1million of ratepayers' money on a cultural event that never took place and which the mayor knew nothing about.

Yesterday the DA's Mark Steele met provincial auditor-general Herman van Zyl and his deputy to hand over "all the relevant documentation" relating to allegations that senior officials of the ANC-controlled Msunduzi municipality misappropriated taxpayers money.

Those implicated in the alleged scandal are Msunduzi municipal manager Rob Haswell, deputy municipal manager for finance Roy Bridgmohan and speaker Alpha Shelembe.

It is alleged that the officials funded an ANC election rally six month ago.

Steele said the DA had in its possession documents that suggest that senior officials of the municipality authorised payment of R1065117 for an event called "The Nkosi Mlaba Cultural Day" on January 19.

"Despite the actual event being scheduled to take place on January 18 as far as the DA can ascertain, there is no evidence that it ever took place. Instead, the only event that actually took place was an ANC election rally," said Steele.

The election rally in question was allegedly addressed by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and premier Zweli Mkhize at Qokololo Stadium. The Nkosi Mlaba Cultural Day was supposed to be held at the cricket oval on January 18. Instead the venue was used for a cricket match on the day.

It is alleged the trio was approached by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC asking the municipality to fund the rally that was set to take place on January 18.

Msunduzi municipality mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo could not be reached for comment as calls to her phone went unanswered.

Steele said Van Zyl assured him that his office would investigate the matter.

"We believe the investigation should take the form of a full forensic audit. It must be conducted by an independent team or agency," he said.

"The DA will use the findings of that audit to make a decision on whether or not a criminal charge should be laid with the police," Steele said.