CFO ‘will not’ resign

CALLS PREMATURE: Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality chief financial officer Paul Mahlasela Picture: ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA

Mahlasela adamant he will be cleared in alleged R38m tender fraud case, for which he’s on bail

Paul Mahlasela, the CFO of Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) who was recently arrested in connection with the case involving the R38m tender fraud allegedly committed while he was supply chain manager at the Alfred Nzo Municipality, says calls for his suspension are premature and he will not resign.

There have been calls for Mahlasela to resign from his current position at EMLM following his implication in the alleged 2014 fraud at Alfred Nzo.

But Mahlasela wants to make it clear that he is not under any pressure to resign and he will not be doing so any time soon.

Mahlasela was arrested with three other officials and released on R10,000 bail.

He had worked as a supply chain manager in the former municipality and is alleged to have paid R38m to a company to install water meters that had already been installed in 2012.

However, Mahlasela is adamant his name will be cleared.

He told The Rep: “We have not started the trial, I have not been found guilty of anything.

“At this point, nothing says I must be suspended.

“I have not done anything in Enoch Mgijima nor in Alfred Nzo Municipality.

“Yes, there are charges in the Mthatha specialised commercial crimes court, but they are still being investigated. The matter is sub judice.

“Any form of action can be taken after the outcome of the case.”

He expressed that he had no fears about the case which happened in 2014 as he had complete information about what happened.

“I will be providing that information to the court when the case starts. We are appearing on May 9.”

Mahlasela said his matter was due to be considered by the Enoch Mgijima council, adding that he was not the only person who was being investigated by the Hawks, who were working in EMLM.

He said the former acting CFO who was linked to the R7m which disappeared from the municipality was still in office.

“The former acting CFO, the late DA Izak Schoeman and the DA budget manager Jasper Jonker were all linked to the R7m which disappeared in the municipality.

“They were not forced to resign and they are still working for the local municipality.

“No suspension was implemented.

“Why should it be implemented on me? The procedure does not go that way.”

He also wished to clear up the “misconception” that he had been arrested in connection with the R15m corruption saga regarding the Lesseyton stadium.

Mahlasela said it was fake news as the project implementation of the Lesseyton stadium took place when Enoch Mgijima Municipality was placed under the cooperative governance and traditional affairs intervention under administrators Vuyo Mlokoti and Monwabia Somana, from 2018 to October 31 2021.

He said they should be accountable for the Lesseyton sports field and stadium saga.

“I was appointed in March 2021 by EMLM.”

The Komani Civic Forum and the DA’s Jane Cowley had further alleged that Mahlasela was also implicated in fraud at Ngqushwa Local Municipality, where he was suspended.

But Mahlasela has dismissed the allegations as fabricated lies.

“We reached an agreement with the municipality of Peddie and I was paid all my money due to me and as well as my leave days’ payout.

“So I do not have any outstanding case of Ngqushwa municipality.”

Meanwhile, Komani Civic Forum’s Zithulele Sana said: “We cannot have a CFO implicated in fraud in Alfred Nzo, he was also linked to fraud in Pedi [Ngqushwa], now he is in our municipality handling our finances. We are having financial problems.”

The Independents and Imatu are of the view that no vetting took place at the time the CFO was appointed.

The Independents’ councillor, Ken Clark said: “It is common knowledge that the CFO was irregularly appointed; hence we knew that there were cases up against him.”

Clark said the municipal manager, Nokuthula Zondani, and those who were involved in the interview committee were responsible.

“He needs to be fired, we cannot have a man [allegedly] involved in corruption to the tune of R38m.

“The minimum that should happen is that he should be suspended.

“That is why I have taken them to court for the Fikile Gwadana Road.”

Imatu secretary Siyabonga Nofukuka said Zondani had disregarded EMLM’s administrator’s disapproval of the CFO’s appointment due to non-disclosure of the suspension instituted against him by the Ngqushwa municipality.

But Mahlasela hit back: “The vetting was done by the Enoch Mgijima Municipality, which also included a competency assessment by Work Dynamic, an independent recruitment service provider.

“My appointment was not irregular; it was approved by council as per the Municipality Systems Act. All processes were followed.”

“I was not pressured to resign at Afraid Nzo.

“I resigned because I was appointed at Sakhisizwe to be a CFO, which was a top position and opportunity for career growth.”

EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said according to municipal manager Nokuthula Zondani, the CFO was vetted and went through all the other necessary processes.