A heated row has erupted between the mayor of Emalahleni Local Municipality and a local business forum leader.
The ongoing dispute has since landed at the local police station, with mayor Nontombizane Koni laying criminal charges against Cacadu Youth Business Forum chairperson Xolisile Pemba.
Pemba confirmed to The Rep that the mayor had opened a case against him on August 7,”alleging that I have insulted her on the Facebook platform.”
He, however, denied insulting the mayor. He said he was still waiting for the prosecutors to give him a date to appear in court.
Meanwhile, police spokesperson Lariane Jonker said:” A case of crimen injuria was opened by the mayor against Pemba.”
Jonker said the docket was forwarded to the state public prosecutor for a decision.
The case stemmed from allegations of serious maladministration Pemba made against Koni.
He alleged, among other things, that she had received a paid-off vehicle illegitimately, from a service provider who was awarded a tender in ward 6.
He also made scathing allegations against the municipality and questioned the investigation of an infrastructure director.
Pemba said:”Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) had investigated the maladministration that took place in the previous administration in which the infrastructure director was implicated.
”Cogta submitted its forensic report findings to the council recommending for them to act. ”Why are they hiring an investigator after this was done, which costs millions?”
According to Pemba, the project management unit (PMU) manager was also suspended with the council’s involvement.
He said it was costing the municipality a lot of money to pay someone acting in the manager’s position, while she still received her salary in full.
Pemba said the municipality was in a critical financial state.
He added that the municipality sought to employ a panel of consultants as a
means of avoiding advertising.
”Emalahleni is a grade 2 municipality, it cannot afford to employ consultants, but the municipal manager Velile Makedama has lifted the grade of the institute to level four with intents of fattening the salaries of directors, Pemba claimed.
He continued:”The municipality has R5m of irregular expenditure, we have directed the Hawks to investigate all contractors.
”The waste collecting contract in Cacadu was not advertised, yet someone is doing the job.”
However, in response, municipal spokesperson, Luthando Nqumkana, said the municipality viewed the allegations Pemba made in a serious light.
He said the structures Pemba purported to represent did not exist.
”There is a single structure representing all business people, it is Emalahleni Business Forum.
”He said the vehicle in question was a financed car and the mayor was paying instalments for it.
The PMU manager, Nqumkana said, was suspended for allegedly breaching a code
of conduct and that disciplinary processes were in progress.
Pemba also alleged that she was driving a Range Rover paid-off, which she received through the municipal manager connections with service providers unlawfully.
However, Nqumkana said the municipality did not know a vehicle bought by service providers.
He said consultants were at times appointed temporarily for various projects, such as those requiring engineering expertise.
”We use our vehicles to collect waste.”
Pemba had also alleged that the CFO of the municipality was getting paid a salary equivalent to that of on metro for the position.
The salary grades of the ELM CFO and directors is category B.
A municipality is not allowed to alter its grading by itself, there are processes to be followed. We can never afford a salary bill equivalent to that of a metro.”
Pemba concluded: We will be marching on September 17 for the removal of the mayor, MM and the CFO.