RIDWAAN Abdullah, sacked chief financial officer and Fred Dennis, the previous planning and development director of the Kouga municipality have both been fingered in a preliminary report released by the Eastern Cape Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC, Mlibo Qoboshiyane on Monday.
However, Qoboshiyane appealed to locals and the media not be too excited about this to the point where they wrongfully accuse some current and former municipal officials as being guilty. Abdullah and Dennis are both named in the document.
“The principal of innocent until proven guilty must apply in this case,” implored Qoboshiyane.
The report, which has been almost a year in the waiting, was presented to a full council by the MEC who has now given them a specific time frame to table it at a special council meeting, and to report back to him within 30 days with a written response on how Kouga will respond to the allegations confirmed in the preliminary report.
“My department has an obligation to conduct an investigation where there is reason to believe that there is maladministration, fraud, corruption or any form of malpractice,” said the MEC.
He also promised to be in touch with the ratepayers associations as they were instrumental in having the investigations done.
Calling the report a “shocker”, executive mayor Booi Koerat and speaker Magdalene Dlomo undertook to call a special council meeting as soon as is possible and promised that council would respond to the MEC before the 30 days were up. “Since we took office in June last year substantial steps have already been made in eradicating crime and corruption in our institute,” said Koerat referring to the Janet Savage case.
Savage was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month for stealing from the municipality.
Hailing it as a positive step forward, the caucus leader of the DA Chimpie Cawood said: “The long- awaited document dubbed the Gobodo report has been at the centre of many discussions and requests the past year. We as DA councillors, the ratepayers associations in the Kouga and Our Times have been at the forefront in campaigning to have the MEC make known the content. I am glad it has at last happened.”
In the document released to the press the following issues were highlighted:
Tender irregularities and irregular expenditure and subsequent R2.7-million overpayment and Dennis’s alleged involvement;
Failure to discipline Abdullah for his purported involvement with the awarding of the installation of prepaid meters to a family member without declaring his interest;
The sale of a vacant erf to Abdullah at a greatly reduced price;
Failure to implement remedial measures as recommended by the Auditor General;
Payment of performance bonuses without a performance measure or criteria in place, among others.
The MEC also stated that criminal charges against current or previous employees will be implemented if necessary.