Ekurhuleni accuses CFO of being untruthful about her suspension

Ekurhuleni has slammed its suspended chief financial officer Gugu Malaza’s probe into the contentious R112million Lungile Mtshali project, saying it was irregular and contravened municipal legislation.
The council suspended Malaza in October for allegedly failing to disclose to the city the circumstances surrounding her 2014 dismissal at the SABC where she was also chief financial officer.

This was in response to Malaza telling The Star last week that she believed her suspension, including the attendant disciplinary action, was in response to a probe she commissioned into the Lungile Mtshali programme, where a slew of bogus invoices and non-existent or shoddily-done work were unearthed.

Phakamile Mbengashe, mayor Mzwandile Masina’s spokesman, said forensic investigations in terms of Ekurhuleni’s governance structure were conducted by its Internal Audit Department. “In this case, the CFO commissioned the investigation in an irregular manner. The city has no record of a forensic investigation that has been carried out to look into the affairs of the Lungile Mtshali project,” Mbengashe said.

He added that the company which conducted the probe was hired only to assist Ekurhuleni prepare its annual financial statements, and that the city would be recouping money from the firm should it have worked outside the scope of its mandate.

Mbengashe asserted that Malaza’s views as to why she was suspended were “devoid of truth”, and that the city had verified “the excellent work” done in its 112 wards, where all was “above board”.

“The city reiterates that the charges that have been levelled against Malaza are justified and it will continue with the disciplinary process according to the relevant legislation,” Mbengashe said.

He added that Ekurhuleni did not wait two years to act on Malaza after it emerged in March 2017, during a rowdy council meeting which was to confirm her appointment, that she was axed from the SABC for alleged procurement irregularities.

Mbengashe said the city had not waited 19 months before suspending Malaza and had launched an investigation, which Malaza had allegedly not responded to from July last year only responding in October prior to being suspended.

Solly Mosomane, Malaza’s lawyer, said they would be raising the issue of whether the Lungile Mtshali report was conducted through applicable legislation at the disciplinary hearing and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

“Also to be answered before the CCMA is whether the employer has received (the) report from our client or not. If (the) report was received from our client, the employer will have to tell us of the steps taken in response to the disclosure,” Mosomane said.

He said the SABC matter would be raised at the CCMA and hearing, saying Malaza’s comments to The Star were a result of Ekurhuleni’s statements in October after she was suspended.