KwaMaphumulo protesters say mayor is corrupt, but she denies their claims

A group of protesters in KwaMaphumulo, on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, have accused their mayor of maladministration and corruption.

But the mayor has denied the allegations made.

The protesters marched to the KwaMaphumulo Municipality's offices on Monday to hand in a memorandum of grievances.

Halalisani Shange, one of the march organisers, also accused Mayor Zibuyisile Khuzwayo-Dlamini of nepotism.

He told News24 that Khuzwayo-Dlamini allegedly had 13 companies registered under her family relatives, which were doing business with the municipality.

"All the municipality tenders revolve around those 13 companies. She employs her family, relatives and her friends to managerial positions even when they are without qualifications. She is not fit to hold her office and we want her to step down," he said.

He also alleged that the mayor recently took a municipal tractor and two trucks to her house for three weeks "to extend the yard in her house".

"These are not just allegations. We [have] proof from some staff members of the municipality. They are scared that when there's an investigation they'll also be implicated," he said.

Shange further alleged that when there was work available in the municipality, the mayor "always provides a list of companies" to do that work.

"She also pays her bodyguards R90 000 a month on top of the salary she gets from being the mayor. She also abuses her power. There's a councillor who took R70 000 which was meant for sports development for the youth of the area and used it to buy a roof of her home under her watch. She did not take any action against the councillor because they are friends," he said.

The protesters further alleged in the memorandum that some municipal councillors had catering companies who conducted business with the municipality and "if there are municipal events, they publicly deliver food in their bakkies".

The protesters want the government to conduct a forensic investigation into the municipality.

But Khuzwayo-Dlamini rubbished the allegations against her.

"These are just baseless allegations. They talk about corruption, about councillors who are doing business with the municipality and about the municipality's trucks being in my house. I don't know anything about those allegations. I have no family members, children or relatives working or doing business here," she said.

Khuzwayo-Dlamini claimed the protest was politically motivated.

"I cannot say the strike was organised by the residents, but it looks like the protest was stirred by some people within us. This is politics," she said, adding that only about 100 people participated in the march.

The mayor said the municipality was not doing well when she took over in September 2016.

"The municipality was not in the right place and I have since tried to put all the systems back in place again. Some workers were benefiting illegally from conducting business with the municipality, but we have turned things around. Now the municipality is financially viable. I'm ready for a forensic investigation into the protesters' allegations," said Khuzwayo-Dlamini.

Responding to the allegation that she employed outsiders, she said: "We do employ the majority of KwaMaphumulo residents in the municipality, but we can't employ unqualified people in leadership positions just because they are from the area."

She pointed out that there were no business people among the protesters.

"We have a database of local businessman in the area, but there are very few of them who even respond to advertised tenders. If you look at the pictures of the protesters, those business people were not there," she added.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele confirmed that a group of 100 people marched to the municipality's offices.

The situation was calm and public order police members were at the march to monitor the situation, Gwala said.

"No incidents were reported and no case was opened," she added.