KZN government must take action against Gumede
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has written to the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Sipho Hlomuka, urging him to order a probe into both Gumede and Mthembu, as he is legally entitled to do under the Municipal Systems Act.
Tim Tyrrell, OUTA KZN’s provincial manager, said the Act clearly allows for intervention by provincial government – as part of its oversight function – to probe malfeasance by any councillor. “The MEC not only has the authority to institute an inquiry, but if he finds that the councillors breached the code, he has a duty to suspend the councillors or remove them entirely from office.”.
According to the Municipal Systems Act , Schedule 1 CODE OF CONDUCT OF COUNCILLORS, Section 14 BREACHES OF THE CODE, ss (6) if the “MEC is of the opinion that the councillor has breached a provision of this Code, and that such contravention warrants a suspension or removal from office, the MEC may (a) suspend the councillor for a period and on conditions determined by the MEC; or (b) remove the councillor from office”
OUTA has informed the MEC of the existing body of evidence that shows the likely contraventions of the Code. OUTA also pointed out that any civil inquiry would not automatically amount to interference in the criminal investigation, and that the burden of proof as well as the subsequent consequences in civil and criminal proceedings are vastly different
Tyrrell said if the new provincial government was serious about cleaning up government and putting the people first, it must exercise its legislative duty and proceed with an inquiry into Gumede and Mthembu.
“The community’s best interests must prevail. While there is a legislative imperative for action to follow there is also a moral obligation,” said Tyrrell.
Tyrrell said the lack of urgency by the eThekwini Municipality to hold any inquiry into the accused councillors was unacceptable and a slap in the face to all law-abiding residents.
OUTA has requested a response from the MEC by 16 July 2019.
Gumede and Mthembu and a further 10 co-accused face charges for their role in the alleged illegal awarding of a R208-million waste management tender. They are set to appear before the Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court on 8 August 2019.
OUTA is of the view that Gumede and Mthembu should vacate their offices until the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court has pronounced on their innocence or guilt. The organisation believes that both senior members of the eThekwini executive council cannot properly exercise their duties due to the stringent bail conditions in place.