Secrecy oath for eThekwini councillors
Durban councillors may view a full, controversial, 700-page forensic audit report on fraud and corruption, but only after being sworn to secrecy, the KwaZulu-Natal government said today.
“Any councillor who wants to see the 700-(page) report can do so, but (has) to sign the confidentiality clause,” said KwaZulu-Natal provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs spokesperson Lennox Mabaso.
He said the councillors were “at liberty to divulge details, but face consequences”.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said at the weekend the full report should be released.
Mabaso accused DA councillors of misleading Zille.
There was no issue about access to the report, but rather the conditions of access to the report, he said.
“A responsible state would guard against infringing on the rights of individuals, because if it acts recklessly just to make headlines, you may have culprits who transgressed and deserve to be sanctioned walking free.”
Mabaso said the full report was tabled before the full council of the eThekwini municipality.
However, DA eThekwini leader Tex Collins said an abridged version had been presented to council.
As a member of the municipality’s 12-member executive committee (exco), Collins said he had seen the report.
“What’s the point (of seeing the report) if we cannot divulge it, even to our own caucus members?” he asked.
Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay said exco members had access to the report for a “couple of hours” after signing the confidentiality agreement.
There was insufficient time to go through the document, he said.
The IFP’s eThekwini caucus leader, Mdu Nkosi, said a Powerpoint presentation was made to the full council, but that he had not seen a hard copy of the report. He is not a member of the exco.
The forensic audit by Manase and Associates was instituted after Auditor General Terence Nombembe said in his 2009/10 report that the municipality had irregularly spent R532 million.
Accusations against a number of senior officials were made.
According to Nombembe’s report, 10 councillors had business interests with entities conducting business with the eThekwini municipality.
The ANC has backed the decision not to make the full report public.
The party’s Durban chairperson, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said in August that releasing it would be unfair to the parties involved and would endanger the interests of the municipality.
An abridged version of the report was released by KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance MEC Nomusa Dube in February. The city was supposed to release the full contents in July.
However, on August 1, mayor James Nxumalo said the full report would not be released.
He also cited prejudice to those involved.
Nxumalo said the municipality was hoping to make the full report public by the end of December, when all disciplinary process had been completed.
eThekwini municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said councillors could see the full report, but would have to sign a confidentiality clause, a copy of which could not be obtained.