Mhlabuyalingana finance chief quits

EMBATTLED municipality chief financial officer Mthandeni Zungu resigned yesterday.

His resignation comes 30 days after he was suspended on allegations of financial mismanagement at uMhlabuyalingana municipality, in Zululand.

Though the forensic investigation is still under way,Sowetan has learnt that a huge undisclosed amount of money disappeared from the municipal coffers without any trace.

Sowetan is in possession of a copy of Zungu's resignation letter, which he handed in to the municipal authorities yesterday.

In the letter, Zungu states that his resignation is with effect from December 31. "I will serve my resignation notice with effect from today (yesterday) up until December 31, as stipulated in my contract of employment.

"Thank you for the opportunity you have given me and I believe I have done my job to your satisfaction for the last seven years with you."

"I strongly believe that I am leaving this municipality with a clean audit report for 2008-09 that will be released before the end of December."

Attempts to get comment from Mayor Alison Ncube were unsuccessful as he was said to be attending a World Aids Day event.

Acting municipal manager Moses Ngubane did not answer his phone.

The Umhlabuyalingana municipality was among those in the province that have performed poorly, according to the Department of Local Government.

Other affected municipalities are Okhahlamba and KwaMbonambi.

A Departmental spokesperson recently said of the municipality: "The situation in uMhlabuyalingana seems dire. The department has just finalised a forensic report in respect of this municipality. MEC Nomusa Dube is considering the report."

He said a lot had been done to help the municipality in terms of financial support and otherwise, but without success.

"The MEC has promised the nation that swift action will be taken by the department to remedy the situation at ailing municipalities to ensure there was no disruption of service delivery."

This is the second senior official to resign under a cloud from an IFP-led municipality.

Last week, Umzinyathi's assistant financial officer S'buyiselo Mthembu resigned while investigations over graft were being carried out against him.

He allegedly defrauded the municipality of over R500000 related to tenders.