South Africa, Durban – eThekwini municipal manager Sipho Nzuza has been placed on special leave until February after his second arrest last week.
This is after his appearance in court on allegations of contravening bail conditions. He is on bail after his arrest earlier this year.
Nzuza was arrested by the Hawks in March on a number of charges including fraud, corruption and maladministration relating to a multimillion-rand Durban Solid Waste tender.
He is charged alongside former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, several city officials and councillors.
Nzuza is forbidden to sit in on some council meetings and to sign off on some documents because that will be in violation of his bail conditions.
The DA recently raised concerns that Nzuza was signing off on matters he should not be, in contravention of his bail conditions. Those alleged violations led to his second arrest and court appearance last Monday, where his bail conditions were tightened.
A special council meeting was called this past Monday to discuss the matter, but it fell apart when the ANC councillors failed to arrive.
The Mercury learnt that after the meeting failed to convene, a special executive committee (exco) meeting was held on Tuesday. It resolved to grant Nzuza the leave.
Exco used a special resolution granted to it by the council in July during the coronavirus lockdown which allows it to take decisions on behalf of the council where necessary.
“The length of his leave will depend on the outcome of the court case on December 10. If the court relaxes his bail conditions, he is allowed to come back to work and the special leave will expire on December 10. Deputy city manager for governance Sipho Cele was appointed to act in Nzuza’s position,” said an official who asked not to be named.
“The opposition parties had also raised concerns that Cele could not take over Nzuza as he deposed to an affidavit with the Hawks that formed part of Nzuza’s latest arrest, so his appointment could be seen as a conflict of interest.
“But mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, however, stated that Cele was not conflicted as he had responded to the questions that had been posed to him by the Hawks,” said the official.
DA councillor Nicole Graham said they believed Nzuza should have been placed on precautionary suspension and not on leave. She declined to speak further on the matter.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi declined to speak, citing confidentiality of the meeting.
Spokesperson for the mayor, Mluleki Mtungwa, said: “We can confirm that the city manager has been granted leave, and that Sipho Cele is the acting city manager, that is all I can say on the matter.”
He declined to comment on concerns about Cele, saying he would not speak on a matter he was not aware of.
Attempts to speak to Cele yesterday were unsuccessful.
Nzuza too declined to speak on the matter: “That was a discussion by the councillors. I was not part of it.”