Corruption will be rooted out of Nelson Mandela Bay’s human settlements directorate, and anyone stealing from its coffers will be exposed.
Newly appointed human settlements political head Nqaba Bhanga made this vow to the directorate’s staff yesterday.
“The days of corruption are over,” he said. “It will not be tolerated. “If you steal from the public purse we are going to get you,” he said.
Bhanga addressed hundreds of human settlements staff at the Port Elizabeth City Hall.
He said all efforts to clean up the directorate were based on a solid plan.
“We are here to defend the poor. Those days of councillors knocking on your windows to get something are over,” Bhanga said.
The national Department of Human Settlements intervened in the city’s beleaguered directorate last year.
Senior officials were parachuted in by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to take charge.
ANC councillor Buyisile Mkavu, who was the human settlements portfolio chairman, was gunned down in 2014.
The suspected motive for his murder is widely believed to be linked to the fact that Mkavu was on the verge of uncovering mass corruption in the directorate.
Bhanga and his new acting executive director, Luthando Mabhoza, said they had been cautioned about taking charge.
Mabhoza was appointed by the council this week after Mandla George’s secondment term ended.
“I have been warned, but I have a conviction to make other peoples’s lives better. If I am given that opportunity, I will take it,” Mabhoza said.
Also addressing staff yesterday, Mabhoza said he expected everyone to pull their weight.
“This department is key to the development of this city, attracting investment and making sure that poor people are served.
“I am happy that I can contribute to that,” Mabhoza said.
Bhanga said he was also wary about taking on such a big task.
“And like [Mabhoza] I was asked: ‘Why did you take that department? You will never succeed. It is not a good department, you might lose your life’.”
Bhanga said he had even told Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip that he was handing him a death sentence.
But he had changed his mind about taking the position when someone told him that a black person could not lead the department.
“I immediately sent an SMS to the mayor and said I want that department. It is not about the colour of your skin or background that makes you capable,” he said.
Bhanga said he was confident that Mabhoza was the right choice.
“His academic qualifications are a testimony that we did not make a wrong choice.
“I said to him, make us proud. This opportunity is temporary, but make us proud,” Bhanga said.
He said they were in talks with the Housing Development Agency and Sisulu’s office to bring back the delivery of houses under the municipality.
“When I worked in the department years ago it was an award-winning one. Now it is known as the most corrupt.
“We are bringing change. We want you to love coming to work, we don’t want you to be scared,” Bhanga said.