BCM probes claim of councillor interference
Buffalo City Metro executive is investigating allegations of interference with procurement processes and undue influence on administration by mayoral committee member for municipal services councillor Helen Neal-May.
The investigation against the portfolio chair of municipal services comes after a complaint from one of the employees under the directorate, Mziwethu Booi, in July.
Booi complained to municipal manager Andile Sihlahla and mayor Xola Pakati’s office that Neal-May was guilty of gross intimidation, harassment and interfering with duties of officials under the department.
Pakati’s spokesperson Luzuko Buku confirmed that the ethics committee was dealing with the matter but refused to comment further.
“Complaints against councillors, even those serving in the mayoral committee, are ordinarily handled by the ethics committee under the speaker. It is important to note that when a matter is before the ethics committee it is treated with the necessary seriousness and confidentially up until it has been finalised.”
Contacted for comment, Neal-May referred questions to the directorate’s acting head of department (HOD) Howard Sikweza.
Sikweza said he was aware of the complaint but was not able to comment.
“Since this involves an MMC [member of mayoral committee], the logical person the complaint went to was the mayor’s office. The office of the mayor has not yet called a meeting to deal with the matter but he has requested a written statement from the portfolio head.”
Booi refused to comment, saying the matter was between the employer and employee.
The Daily Dispatch has seen e-mails which show that the animosity between the two has been a matter of numerous discussions between officials, unions and the mayor’s office even before the official complaint.
In a thread of e-mails to Sikweza, Neal-May and other senior officials the Dispatch has seen, Booi accuses Neal-May of removing him from some duties without any rational basis.
He further claims that there were numerous competent and qualified officials who were removed from their positions through her instructions.
“Her interference in procurement and administrative processes has created an atmosphere of destruction and mistrust and fear among officials,” wrote Booi.
His sentiments were echoed by Samwu regional secretary Zolani Ndlela.
“Booi is not the only one complaining about her, but he was brave enough to lodge the complaint,” he said.
Ndlela claimed the Municipal Structures Act and Municipal Systems Act only allowed for politicians to conduct oversight functions .