Manase report must be released
Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance
21 October 2012
Note to editors: This is an extract of the speech delivered by Helen Zille at a community meeting to protest against the eThekwini municipality’s cover-up of the Manase report.
We are here today to show that we will not tolerate corruption and the protection of corrupt politicians and government officials.
This is precisely what is happening in the eThekwini municipality.
In February, the key findings and recommendations of the Manase report were referred to the municipality by MEC Nomusa Dube. The investigation found R1.3 billion over-expenditure attributable to wide-scale corruption, tender fraud, maladministration and inappropriate business dealings.
The report fingered 10 councillors, 135 officials and the former mayor, the former municipal manager and numerous current department heads as being guilty of corrupt behaviour.
It recommended that disciplinary procedures be implemented against all officials named, and that a forensic investigation be conducted into all irregular contracts.
eTthekwini Mayor James Nxumalo said at the time that the report was a “wake up call” and that action would be taken.
A few weeks later, the city council resolved, amongst other things, that all officials implicated in the report would be charged with misconduct and that the full report would be released.
But eight months later, precious little has happened.
While a handful of municipal officials have been dismissed, not a single person has been criminally charged. Instead, all the councillors and most of the officials fingered still have their jobs.
The full report has also not been released despite repeated requests and a PAIA application being submitted by the DA.
Not even the municipality’s own audit and risk committee, which is mandated to conduct oversight over the council’s internal financial controls, has been allowed see the full document.
After breaking two promises to release the report in July, Mayor Nxumalo announced that it would only be made available in December after all disciplinary processes have been concluded.
This is completely unacceptable and we are here today to demand answers.
Why has the eThekwini municipality failed to finalise disciplinary action eight months after receiving the report?
Why are councillors and officials who are allegedly guilty of billions of rands of corrupt and fraudulent expenditure being protected by the municipality?
The DA believes the answer lies in a letter sent to National Treasury by former municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe in February last year. In his letter, Sutcliffe claims that there was political interference in certain tenders to favour senior ANC members in the council. He also claims that he had been put under pressure to issue tenders to senior ANC members.
It is clear that the ANC does not want the full report to be released because it is trying to protect some of its leaders from being implicated in this widespread corruption.
It is also the reason why the municipality is dragging its feet with the disciplinary processes, as many of the officials are linked to these senior leaders.
In other words, the ANC in the eThekwini municipality cares more about protecting its cadres deployed in the council than ensuring that public money is treated with respect and that justice is served.
These actions make a mockery of the pledge made by Mayor Nxumalo when he came into office that fighting corruption, fraud and maladministration would top his agenda.
But the looting of state coffers is not confined to the eThekwini municipality. The Public Service Commission recently revealed that during the 2010/2011 financial year, the state lost R300 million through fraud and financial misconduct by civil servants. During the same year 1 135 financial misconduct cases were reported at national and local government level.
Just a few days ago, the KwaZulu-Natal education department revealed that in the past two financial years 3 314 of its employees were found to be doing business with the department. 70% of these were teachers. Members of the KZN provincial legislature rightly asked how teachers found time to conduct their business when they were meant to be in the classroom teaching.
President Jacob Zuma’s statement during his State of the Nation debate that the South African government takes the fight against crime and corruption extremely seriously rings hollow in light of these figures.
In contrast, the DA has a zero tolerance approach to corruption and cronyism where we govern.
We recognise that one of the key drivers of corruption is the absence of restrictions on state employees doing business with the state. It leads to politicians and employees manipulating procurement processes so that tenders worth billions of rands are awarded to companies belonging to themselves and their family members.
That is why one of the first things we did when we took over the Western Cape Government was introduce and pass the Business Interests of Employees Bill.
This bill prohibits provincial government employees and their families from directly or indirectly holding more than 5% of shares, stock, membership or other interests in an entity that does business with the Western Cape Government.
All employees are required to disclose their business interests on a regular basis and any business entering into a contract with the Western Cape government must disclose whether or not it is owned or part-owned by employees of the provincial government.
We are also committed to ensuring all provincial government officials comply with this legislation. Since we passed the bill, any instances where an employee or family member of an employee has been found to be doing business with the state have been investigated immediately and disciplinary action has been taken where necessary.
As part of the Western Cape Government’s “better together” approach our Forensic Investigation Unit (FIU) has also entered into a contract with audit firm Deloitte to detect and prevent fraud and corruption proactively in the provincial government. This is a first in the country.
This partnership has led to a number of arrests of current and former employees found guilty of corrupt practices, in some cases, less than 48 hours after the FIU received information of criminal activity.
DA representatives in the other provincial legislatures and in Parliament have tried to get the restrictions introduced by the Business Interests of Employees Act implemented in the other provinces and at a national level.
But the ANC has resisted such a ban on officials where it governs. The result is that millions of rands earmarked for the delivery of services is pocketed by government employees every year.
But the people of eThekwini have had enough.
That is why we are here today, to demand that the full Manase report be released and that every councillor and municipal employee guilty of corruption and fraud is brought to book expeditiously, irrespective of which political party they belong to.
The DA has already stated that it is prepared to take the city council to court to force it to make the contents of the Manase report public. This is because we believe every citizen living in eThekwini municipality has a right to know who is responsible for overspending R1.3 billion of taxpayer’s money.
Today, I will also be writing to President Zuma to request his intervention.
During a New Age breakfast meeting held in Durban last November, where President Zuma was the guest speaker, his son Edward Zuma asked him what he planned to do about corruption in the eThekwini municipality.
He alleged that people who complained about corruption in the council and that no action had been taken were sent from “pillar to post”.
He asked: “Are senior politicians trying to cover up and as president what are you going to do about corrupt eThekwini officials?”
Zuma responded to his son that he did not know what was happening in the municipality but if people did not get results after complaining, they should report the matter to his office. “If I receive a complaint I can deal with it,” he said.
The DA has submitted numerous complaints to Mayor Nxumalo regarding his council’s failure to release the full report and the lack of disciplinary action taken up to now, with no result.
I will therefore be writing to President Zuma to request him to deal with the DA’s complaints.
At the recent COSATU National Congress, the President said that “the fight against corruption requires all of us to play a part. We have to unmask those who divert for their own use, funds aimed at improving the lives of our people.”
This is exactly what the Manase report aims to do. I therefore call on President Zuma to put his words into action and to call for the full report to be released and for those guilty of corruption and fraud to be brought to justice.