Mayor in hot water over black bag saga: Daily Dispatch

MEC answer in Bhisho raises questions

BUFFALO City Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha is in hot water again, this time over the appointment of a company to investigate the R17-million black bags scandal.

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Fikile Xasa revealed this during a legislature sitting on October 1, in response to oral questions from Democratic Alliance’s Dorah Matikinca.

The investigation followed a Daily Dispatch exposé which revealed gross irregularities with the deal.

The three-year contract was awarded to Masiqhame Trading, a company owned by Cuan Surren Metune, son of former BCM employee and pastor Fabian Metune.

The Dispatch revealed that on exactly the same day, June 29 2012, that an order for bags worth R1.1-million was made, invoices amounting to just over R1-million were submitted and payments to the supplier were all done.

To add to the controversy, this was six days before the supplier signed a letter accepting the job.

But the report gathered dust for months in Ncitha’s office and its findings were never tabled.

Instead, on June 24 2014 the council made an about-turn and rescinded its decision to investigate the tender.

In his oral response in the legislature Xasa made reference to this event.

Xasa said on the day the council instead resolved to assign the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) to investigate Ncitha as she allegedly incurred irregular expenditure “when, without obtaining a mandate from council, she hired a service provider”.

But Ncitha came out guns blazing yesterday, saying there were minutes to confirm that on October 23 2012, council resolved she facilitate an investigation.

She said the minutes would show that council allowed her to “proceed with the investigation process for the purpose of determining if there is any misconduct on how the black plastic bags had been procured”.

She said city boss Andile Fani, as accounting officer and the legal officer, was among the officials who attended the council meeting and “there was no contrary advice or view to the council in terms of the resolution”.

Ncitha said all she did was implement a resolution and “therefore she cannot be held solely liable nor responsible”.

Matikinca said the DA welcomed the investigation against Ncitha, “as we do not condone any kind of an irregularity”.

“But the process of investigating the executive mayor cannot replace the investigation of the R17-million black plastic bag tender.

“The incorrect appointment of the investigators cannot by any means stop the investigation into the awarding of the tender,” she said.

Matikinca said she would “further ask the MEC to provide clarity in this regard”. — zineg@dispatch.co.za