KZN Public Protector probes KwaDukuza Municipality

KwaZulu-Natal’s public protector has hauled KwaDukuza officials over the coals for “unlawful and disrespectful conduct” after they apparently ignored a summons to answer to a number of dealings with KwaDukuza residents.

In a four-page letter to the provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs (COGTA) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube on June 23, KZN public protector Advocate Mlandeli Nkosi asked the MEC to intervene in getting municipal manager Nhlanhla Mdakane and other officials to cooperate with an investigation he is conducting.

Also read: ANC in KwaDukuza hits back at opposition

Nkosi accused Mdakane and his officials of not performing their functions properly in relation to his office, not attending meetings and blatantly ignoring summonses to subpoena hearings on May 10 and June 22 this year.

“Mr Mdakane’s conduct has resulted in a situation where the residents of Kwadukuza are being made to suffer the consequences of his intransigence because he, and his officials, steadfastly refuse to co-operate with this office in matters involving the lives and welfare of these residents.”

The public protector is investigating allegations that the municipality had not followed due process when expropriating certain properties and three cases concerning the allocation of RDP housing.

However, he says, KDM officials are dragging their feet and frustrating his attempts to do his job.

“The attitude of municipal officials deteriorated from non-co-operation to the point where some of the responses received from the KwaDukuza municipality displayed thinly-veiled contempt for, and disrespect towards this office,” Nkosi said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the public protector to lay criminal charges against Mdakane and several municipal officials. Provincial legislature member Hlanganani Gumbi said that given the seriousness of the situation and lack of cooperation from KDM, Nkosi should take action.

“We call on him to do so in support of constitutional democracy and on behalf of the KwaDukuza community who are being affected every day by a municipality, which is not being held accountable. The public protector’s job is to investigate matters that are reported to their office either by residents or officials.”

KDM media liaison officer Sipho Mkhize denied that the municipal manager had disrespected the public protector. He said the subpoena had not been received. However, the municipal manager had met with the public protector’s office on July 31 and had presented the requested paperwork then.

Mkize said a “response protocol” had only been agreed on by the KDM council on July 27.

“KwaDukuza municipality and its most senior administrator, the municipal manager, respect the office of the Public Protector and will not knowingly undermine that office. “The issue with the subpoena is that the intended recipients did not receive it.

The technicalities relating to that and the matters that gave rise to the subpoena, in the first instance, were dealt with at the meeting between the officials of KwaDukuza municipality, led by the municipal manager, and the relevant personnel in the office of the Public Protector.

“The meeting was held on July 31 in order to, among other things, negotiate a response protocol that was to be entered into by the municipality and the office of the Public Protector.

“It must be stated that the municipal manager and the delegation from the municipality were mandated to bind the municipality to this protocol by a resolution of the full council which sat on the July 27.”

Mkhize also accused the DA of seeking political mileage.

He said the municipal manager had not knowingly undermined the public protector’s office.

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  AUTHOR
Erica Abrahams
Journalist

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