South Africa: Eastern Cape Municipality Hires Manager Facing Corruption Charges

South Africa: Eastern Cape Municipality Hires Manager Facing Corruption Charges

Ntabankulu Local Municipality says it has done nothing wrong, but residents are protesting over the appointment

  • Ntabankulu Local Municipality has appointed a municipal manager who is to go on trial for fraud and corruption in October.
  • Ivy Sikhulu-Nqwena faces charges stemming from when she was on the Mnquma Local Municipality bid evaluation committee.
  • Residents of Ntabankulu have marched in protest, petitioned, and sworn to continue to object until she is removed.

Ntabankulu Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape has hired a municipal manager who is facing fraud and corruption charges from when she was an employee of Mnquma Local Municipality.

Following the announcement of the appointment of municipal manager Ivy Sikhulu-Nqwena in July, about 100 residents marched to the municipal offices in Ntabankulu to demand she be removed.

The former municipal manager, Luleka Nonyongo, is also a co-accused in the same case, and resigned in January.

In March 2018, Sikhulu-Nqwena and Nonyongo, including ten others (Samkhumzi Madubela, Amanda Ntamo, Lusindiso Boya, Grace Tasana, Kulile Clock, Lubabalo Manjingolo, Phindile Madolo, Primrose Gonya, Dinyiswa Mrwetyana, and Zonwabele Plata), were arrested by the Hawks for corruption and flouting tender processes in the Mnquma Local Municipality.

Sikhulu-Nqwena and Nonyongo were part of that municipality’s bid evaluation committee.

The case has dragged on since then. But National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said the matter is now ready for trial and it is set down for 30 October to 10 November in the Mthatha High Court.

Sikhulu-Nqwena was also municipal manager at Amahlathi Local Municipality, and was placed on precautionary suspension. It is unclear what happened to this investigation.

Ntabankulu community leader Silumko Mahlasela says Sikhulu-Nqwena’s appointment is an “insult” and she is “the worst candidate for the position”. He questioned the rationale behind her appointment.

“What angers us as residents is that they keep on hiring these people who have fraud and corruption charges. We are tired,” he said.

Mahlasela said they have sent a petition to the municipality demanding Sikhulu-Nqwena be fired.

“We are waiting for them to give us a date for a meeting,” he said.

Residents interrupted a council meeting on 24 July and have vowed to continue protesting until Sikhulu-Nqwena is fired.

Ntabankulu Local Municipality spokesperson Lungisile Mzanywa said the municipality is aware Sikhulu-Nqwena worked for Mnquma Local Municipality from 2011 to 2014, and has a pending court case emanating from her serving as a bid committee member. He said this was declared during the interview process.

He said subsequent to her time at Mnquma, Sikhulu-Nqwena had been appointed as a senior manager and municipal manager for other municipalities and this was evidence there was no legal obstacle to her appointment at Ntabankulu.

“Regulations on appointment of senior managers requires the Council to appoint the best suitable candidate who meets the prerequisite for the job and the municipality has complied with the said regulations and there is no law that prohibits the Council of Ntabankulu to appoint Mrs Sikhulu-Nqwena,” he said.

Eastern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) spokesperson Pheello Oliphant said: “The municipality in this instance will not be acting within the purport and spirit of good governance should her appointment proceed. COGTA will intervene and ensure that the municipality follows the recruitment process that is above board.”

ANC Alfred Nzo regional leader Onke Diko said, “At this moment it will be hard for me to comment on the matter, but we will look into it.”

Sikhulu-Nqwena sent our questions to the spokesperson for the municipality. Mzanywa said Sikhulu-Nqwena did not appoint herself, but the municipality did, and his comment is final on this matter.