The National Treasury has finally released grant funding to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality following months of negotiations.
But its failure to remove City Manager Dr Noxolo Nqwazi is still a sticking point to be resolved by the troubled metro.
It’s not the only issue affecting the grant funding. The impasse between the Treasury and the municipality was fuelled by the controversial appointment of the Mandela Bay Development Agency’s (MBDA) CEO, Anele Qaba.
Qaba had previously been employed as an executive director of the municipality’s Economic Development Directorate. He was suspended after allegations of corruption emerged.
He was later cleared by the municipality’s disciplinary board. However, a later audit conducted by the company PricewaterhouseCoopers found evidence of wrongdoing by Qaba — but the municipality never followed through with disciplinary measures.
Last week, it emerged that NMBM’s former mayor and DA councillor Retief Odendaal, along with city manager Nqwazi, instead facilitated a R3 million golden handshake for Qaba to vacate his position.
Three months later, Qaba was appointed as CEO of the MBDA, an entity of the municipality. This caused an uproar amongst various stakeholders including the National Treasury, which took a decision to withhold R700 million in grant funding.
In a letter written to the municipality last month, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said the golden handshake was a “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” and needed to be recovered.
Godongwana also stated that in order for the Treasury to release the funds, the municipality also needed to remove Nqwazi, as she has a pending case of maladministration.
Nqwazi is currently out on bail following her arrest on charges of fraud and corruption late last year.
This is due to her alleged involvement in a toilet tender contract of more than R24 million that was allegedly fraudulently awarded by the municipality three years ago.
Regional EFF leader Khanya Ngqisha said even though the National Treasury had released the funds late last week, one of its conditions which requested the removal of Nqwazi had not been met.
“Nqwazi, as the accounting officer, must be held liable, particularly for the R3 million golden handshake that was given to the new CEO of the Mandela Bay Development Agency, Anele Qaba.”
He added that her alleged misconduct was not brought up for discussion before the council within the necessary seven days after the alleged offence.
The EFF wants Nqwazi to face disciplinary action, and the process to be overseen by Mayor Gary van Niekerk.
Ngqisha also approached Van Niekerk to request that the speaker should call an urgent special council meeting.
However, council speaker Eugene Johnson said she was still applying her mind to the urgency of the matter.