MEC in push for suspension of top official

Defiant mayor vows he won’t suspend under-fire Ingquza municipal boss

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa has told Ingquza Hill mayor Pat Mdingi to advise council to suspend municipal manager Mluleki Fihlani for alleged maladministration.
However, a defiant Mdingi, who confirmed receiving the letter from Xasa two weeks ago, said he would advise council against it, saying there were no valid reasons for Xasa to make such a recommendation.
In his letter, which the Daily Dispatch has seen, Xasa said there was an ongoing investigation into allegations of impropriety and irregularities in the affairs of Ingquza Hill, and that according “to information gathered so far, it appears that the municipal manager is highly implicated in the alleged acts of maladministration including both financial and recruitment matters”.
“Through a written communication, the MM has expressly refused to co-operate with the investigation. The conduct of the municipal manager is thus a blatant act of undermining the authority of the department as defined in the constitution,” said Xasa.
But Mdingi said Xasa was overstepping his ground by making such a recommendation.
“These are separate spheres of government and no one is a big brother to the other. When I am here [at local level], the province nor national government is not a senior partner to dictate how we should be doing things here.
“If the MEC claims his office has conducted an investigation, why has he not given us the right to reply to whatever allegations are levelled against us?”
This comes as the ANC’s provincial deployment committee was busy discussing a plan to also fire Mdingi at a meeting held in Calata House on Monday. At the time of writing the outcomes of the meeting had not been communicated.
At the centre of the Ingquza Hill troubles is the council decision a few years ago which saw houses demolished, and a court order which ruled in favour of the homeowners and instructed the municipality to find alternative shelter for the victims.
But Mdingi said the housing saga was just a convenient story.
“Both myself and the MM are being targeted because we do not have handlers from elsewhere. They want us both out so that they can loot the municipal coffers,” he charged.
This is the second time that Mdingi and Fihlani have come under fire. Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane investigated the two but cleared them of any wrongdoing after hawkers claimed that R5m meant to construct stalls for them had been redirected.
Mdingi said he had written back to Xasa and advised him to instead ask premier Phumulo Masualle to launch a commission of inquiry into the municipality’s affairs.
The municipality is one of the few municipalities in the province known for receiving clean audits.
“We receive clean audits because we don’t flout processes. Now those who are after money want us to go as we are stumbling blocks,” Mdingi said, claiming those who wanted to see his and Fihlani’s back wanted to loot the R132m grant funding.
Cogta spokesman Mamkeli Ngam declined to comment, saying the matter was still internal...

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