UDM leader hits back following Bobani draft report

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa reacted to a draft report by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on the Nelson Mandela Bay public health department while was at the helm, accusing the DA of masterminding a dubious campaign to unseat Bobani.

The draft report 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.

Holomisa took to Facebook on Wednesday (13/09/17), issuing a letter addressed at DA leader Mmusi Maimane, saying that the DA “very publicly, consciously and concertedly undermined one of its coalition partners.”

“I refer to the “draft report” which had been prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in terms of which the Democratic Alliance (DA) had masterminded a dubious campaign to remove from office the United Democratic Movement (UDM) Deputy Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (NMBMM), Cllr Mongameli Bobani, under false pretences. The DA has very publicly, consciously and concertedly undermined one of its coalition partners.,” Holomisa wrote.

“You had relied on an embargoed PwC “draft report”, which we certainly would not have seen had we not demanded a copy at a meeting of coalition partners on 22 August 2017 - only two days ahead of the DA bulldozing a questionable motion of no-confidence in Cllr Bobani through Council.”

“The fecklessness of the “draft report” forced you to keep it secret, but it did not preclude you from (ab)using it. You and your colleagues have publicly criticised me (personally) and the UDM, saying that we condone corruption.”

According to Holomisa, the DA’s aim was to get rid of Bobani and damage the UDM’s reputation

The report, which was given to the municipality in August this year, contained allegations which 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.
On Wednesday, Holomisa hit back:

“The DA based its whole concerted campaign to get rid of Cllr Bobani, and besmirching the good name of the UDM, on a document in which PwC had not expressed an opinion and it had been clear that the document was preliminary,” he wrote.

“Little wonder that you kept it hidden in your briefcase as there is nothing in the “report”, contrary to your public misrepresentations, implicating Cllr Bobani.

It is highly suspicious and abnormal that the accused, his party, the coalition partners and the NMBMM Council itself had been kept in the dark about the “draft report”. Yet, the “draft report” was given to you personally? Why were you, as a national leader of a political party, privy to this information at all? Is this a “municipality document” or a “DA document”?

What were/are your and the DA’s motives in keeping this “draft report” to yourselves and using the information to attack the UDM?”

Earlier this month Bobani told Weekend Post the report did not in any way implicate him but said he had been advised by his lawyers not to comment on it.

“Reliance on this report by you [Weekend Post] and the executive mayor Athol Trollip and by DA leader Mmusi Maimane constitutes a clear and present breach of confidence between a professional firm of advisers and the metro council.

“I cannot respond and comment to such a violation. The answers to your questions would be opportunistic,” Bobani said.

In his letter, Holomisa said the DA would have to explain themselves to the public and requested them to withdraws the accusations and appoligise to the UDM, Bobani and himself (Holomisa).

“The case, currently underway in the Port Elizabeth High Court, is an opportunity for you to explain yourselves to the South African public and the voters of the NMBMM in particular,” Holimisa wrote.

“Lastly Sir, I submit that you and your colleagues have actively misled the public on this matter. The UDM would like to see you publicly and unreservedly withdraw your unsubstantiated accusations and apologise to me, to Cllr Bobani and to the UDM. Prove to the Nation that you are better than the manipulative, destructive liars within the ANC who you purport to oppose.”