Secret report reveals claims of patronage and irregular spending
Eight months of mayhem, patronage and death threats.
These are allegations contained in a secret forensic report on the Nelson Mandela Bay public health department while former deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani was at the helm.
The draft report by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – which has been seen by the Weekend Post – paints a picture of a department where rules were allegedly broken, workers hired through UDM channels and officials who dared ask questions were targeted or threatened.
The report was given to the municipality two weeks ago.
Allegations contained in it appear to have formed the basis for Bobani’s removal as the department’s political head earlier this year.
During their probe PwC investigators visited the city’s waste management depots and interviewed at least 15 department officials and 64 litter pickers.
From the interviews and municipal documents, investigators found that after Bobani took over in August last year:
- He allegedly instructed that senior official Annalisa Dyakala, who had been questioning his decisions, be removed from her position as acting director of waste management.
- In October Bobani allegedly handpicked another official, Nkosinathi Dolo, to replace Dyakala, despite Dolo’s admission that he was not qualified for the job.
- Through Dolo, Bobani allegedly circulated lists of people who had to be hired as litter pickers, in contravention of council rules which state that workers must come through the government’s extended public works programme.
- The department’s head, Andile Tolom, asked to be demoted. He told PwC investigators that too much pressure had been placed on him and that he had received death threats.
- At least 217 more litter pickers were hired than were budgeted for. This amounted to R1.1-million in irregular expenditure.
- Payments were made to litter pickers who had not signed attendance registers.
- When interviewed by investigators, some of the workers said they had heard about the jobs through UDM offices or from meetings with Bobani, while others heard via word of mouth.
- A majority of the workers were hired despite not living in the communities they were to work in, in contravention of council rules.
- One supervisor told investigators that on one occasion, when he asked public toilet cleaners in Uitenhage why they had skipped work on June 16, they allegedly told him it was a public holiday and they went to attend a UDM rally.
- On another occasion, when the supervisor advised workers that their employment would come to an end in June, they allegedly told him they were going nowhere because Bobani had promised them permanent jobs.
- The supervisor was allegedly verbally abused by the workers, who said he did not want them to work for the municipality and that they would report him to “the father”, in reference to Bobani.
- When new toilet workers were eventually hired in Uitenhage, the old group allegedly intimidated the new group. The supervisor allegedly received threatening and rude messages. A picture of Bobani and the workers was also sent to him, warning him to watch his back as they “were dealing with father”. According to the report, the matter was reported to the police.
Dyakala told investigators that because there were more workers hired, it had been practically impossible to supervise them.
However, she had also noticed that the level of cleanliness had not improved.
She said there were many complaints from supervisors who said when they tried to get workers to perform to the required standard, the workers complained to Bobani.
The supervisors would then get a call from Dolo, who warned them that “they should not be strict, otherwise they would be dismissed”.
The report recommends that payments made to litter pickers from the circulated lists be classified as irregular expenditure which amounts to R1.1-million.
It also recommends that the municipality moves to recover irregular expenditure from those found to be liable.
Also that disciplinary action be taken against those implicated and that all allegations be reported to law enforcement agencies for further investigation.