Buffalo City Metro council speaker Alfred Mtsi has cleared four ANC councillors who attended a Department of Social Development “workshop” that never took place in January – all at the taxpayers’ expense of R25 000 – of any wrongdoing.
BCM taxpayers paid for the flights and accommodation of chairwoman of the women’s caucus, councillor Clara Yekiso-Morolong, ward 2 councillor Ntombizandile Mhlola, ward 14 councillor Zininzi Mtyingizane and proportional representative councillor Vuyiswa Mpanza.
Mayor Xola Pakati approved the trip to attend the “Social Development Women Stakeholder Relations Workshop” from January 6 to 8.
In February, the Daily Dispatch reported that a fraudulent letter with the signature of Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s chief of staff Abram “Phahlamohlaka” was used as the basis for Pakati to authorise the trip.
At the time of the alleged invite, Phahlamohla was on leave and his name was incorrectly spelt with a “ka” at the end.
The so-called workshop coincided with the ANC’s 105th anniversary celebrations on January 8, which were also held in Johannesburg.
Last month, Mtsi reported back to councillors that no wrongdoing had been found against the four.
This was after the DA asked him to probe the matter.
Mtsi said his investigation found that on the councillors’ arrival in Johannesburg, “they learnt that the planned workshop was postponed or cancelled”.
“In this instance, the payments made for attendance of the workshop in terms of flights and accommodation were not unauthorised and irregular as per the Municipal Finance Management Act,” said Mtsi.
He blamed the national department for not informing BCM about the cancellation or postponement of the workshop prior to the departure of the delegation of councillors.
The DA and the EFF were unhappy with the findings.
EFF’s caucus leader Chumani Matiwane accused BCM officials of “negligence”.
“I don’t understand how a municipality can pay for flights and book for accommodation without verifying if the said workshop will take place.
“They went there and saw that there is no workshop, then they stayed there and did not come back using the municipality’s money and then there is no action taken,” Matiwane said.
DA councillor Terence Fritz said Mtsi’s response to his initial motion had opened “a whole lot of other questions”.
Fritz said it did not make sense how the trip was approved one day before the supposed event and without communicating with its organisers. — firstname.lastname@example.org