eThekwini municipal manager Sipho Nzuza parts ways with the city
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Durban: Embattled eThekwini municipal manager Sipho Nzuza has parted ways with the municipality after he reached a settlement with the council.
In a statement issued by the municipality on Thursday Durban mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said Nzuza’s last official day was on Wednesday.
The municipality appointed Musa Mbhele, who is currently the chief operating officer, as acting city manager.
Sipho Cele, who has been acting in the position for the past few months will go back to his position as the deputy city manager for governance and international relations.
Councillors were informed during in a committee meeting on Tuesday that the municipality had reached an agreement with Nzuza, who had been on leave since last year.
Nzuza’s position in the municipality had become untenable because of legal challenges. He was arrested and appeared in court in a multi million rand tender fraud case that also involved former mayor Zandile Gumede and several other city official and councillors.
He approached the courts to try and have his bail conditions relaxed so he would be able to work but he failed and instead, the court imposed more restrictive conditions. The court said as his criminal case was under way, he could not assume the responsibilities of the accounting officer.
“We are happy that he is leaving but we are concerned that he is leaving with so much money, the council could have acted a lot sooner against him, disciplined him and it would not have paid any money towards his departure,” said a source in the municipality.
Kaunda wished Nzuza well in his future endeavours and commended him for working with the current leadership in building a stable and people-centred municipality.
He also welcomed the new acting city manager, saying his experience would come in handy in changing the fortunes of the municipality.
“Given his wealth of experience in local government, Mbhele will ensure that the city continues to render quality services to the people of eThekwini and, most importantly, stabilise the economy adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Kaunda, adding that Mbhele would act for a period of three months.
Kaunda commended Cele for steering the city’s ship in the right direction and stabilising the administration.
“Under his supervision, the city was able to fill all critical posts at top management level,” said Kaunda.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said they rejected Mayor Kaunda’s “settlement deal” with Nzuza.
“Nzuza was arrested in 2020 on a raft of corruption and fraud charges. He was suspended by the council, but the investigation into his conduct was not finalised in time and council was not legally able to suspend him further. He agreed to take further leave but casually returned to work in September,” said Graham.
She said the DA then discovered (and made public) documents that indicated that Nzuza was in violation of his bail conditions and had been signing off on tender awards.
He was later re-arrested and his bail conditions tightened.
“Due to their own inaction and failure, the ANC were left with few options and have now agreed to settle with Nzuza. Excluding some leave, he will be paid out approximately six months salary, totalling over a million rand.
“This is unacceptable and a slap in the face of over-burdened ratepayers. Nzuza has effectively not worked for over a year and is facing serious criminal charges but will be richly rewarded,” Graham said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said while one should not celebrate anyone losing a job, the situation had become difficult because of the poor relations between Nzuza and ANC members.
Nkosi said under Nzuza and other administrations, the quality of life in the city had declined, evidenced by how dirty the city was, the increasing number of protests, and the increasing number of people sleeping in the streets.
“When I first started in eThekwini, the municipality was building 10 000 houses per annum, we are now down to 4 000, that tells you that under Nzuza, something went wrong,” said Nkosi.
Kaunda also thanked long-serving chief financial officer (CFO), Krish Kumar, who retired in June after being in charge of the city’s purse for 40 years.
“As the CFO for 20 years, he worked diligently to ensure that the city always obtains an unqualified audit opinion.”
Kaunda also introduced the new CFO, Sandile Mnguni, who started on Wednesday.
Mnguni has worked for Ithala Development Finance Corporation as the CFO and was previously the eThekwini Municipality’s head of expenditure.
He has also worked as senior manager at the Auditor-General South Africa. He is a chartered accountant by profession.
Attempts to reach Nzuza were unsuccessful yesterday.