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Moses Kotane local municipality boss Mokopane Letsoalo has a lot to answer for regarding why a candidate he shortlisted is facing corruption charges for the crucial post of chief financial officer when three other candidates are clean. The municipal manager and his seven-member interview panel gave the controversial candidate, Mzwandile Mkhize, more points than his fellow applicants, making him an imminent appointee despite being implicated in the VBS Mutual Bank graft saga. If he will be appointed, it will be the second time he has served in the position. He was first hired by the municipality in 2018 on a…

Moses Kotane local municipality boss Mokopane Letsoalo has a lot to answer for regarding why a candidate he shortlisted is facing corruption charges for the crucial post of chief financial officer when three other candidates are clean.

The municipal manager and his seven-member interview panel gave the controversial candidate, Mzwandile Mkhize, more points than his fellow applicants, making him an imminent appointee despite being implicated in the VBS Mutual Bank graft saga.

If he will be appointed, it will be the second time he has served in the position. He was first hired by the municipality in 2018 on a five-year contract after he resigned from the West Rand district municipality in Gauteng after an internal report implicated him in graft.

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Other candidates

He and two other senior officials allegedly irregularly invested R400 million from the municipal coffers into VBS, violating the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) provisions. Mkhize’s initial five-year contract at Moses Kotane – which includes Sun City – lapsed in August and is up for renewal or for him to get a permanent job offer.

Other shortlisted candidates were Yvonne Nomvula Malesa, the only female, France Temeki Mabokela and Hopolang Ishmael Lebusa. Remuneration for the CFO post ranged from R987 238 to R1.2 million per annum, depending on experience and qualifications.

Concerns

Concerned community members have opposed Mkhize’s potential permanent appointment, saying they could not trust him to serve the municipality after he contravened the MFMA in Gauteng and allegedly overpaid senior managers at Moses Kotane.

They claim Letsoalo failed to disclose to the municipal council that Mkhize was criminally charged and linked to the VBS scandal.

“The fight against corruption also depends on an active citizenry… Local government functionaries who commit crimes such as theft, fraud or corruption deserve no sympathy,” the community said in a statement.

In a separate complaint, a concerned citizen wrote an anonymous letter to the Auditor-General (AG) asking for an investigation into continued overpayments to senior managers at Moses Kotane during Mkhize’s tenure as CFO.

The person was concerned the AG had omitted or failed to raise any matter regarding overpayments made to senior officials from the 2019-20 financial year up to 2022-23, as shown in respective unaudited and audited statements.

He claimed Letsoalo and Mkhize had overpaid themselves R451 932 and R1 269 809 respectively during the four years, saying: “This action is serious and might lead to financial misconduct as the expenditure constitutes irregular payment.”

VBS investment

Mkhize was first hired just before the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation arrested him and two other senior officials from West Rand municipality in June 2021.

Former municipal manager Moroashike Mokoena, 62, former CFO Romeo Mohaudi, 35, and Mkhize (former manager: income and expenditure) faced a total of 20 counts of corruption and two of contravening the MFMA.

West Rand was among several municipalities in the country to invest municipal money into VBS, which turned out to be a corrupt scheme implicating high-level members of the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters and bank executives.

The money was embezzled and poor rural investors lost their savings. Letsoalo was contacted for comment on Friday and he asked for questions to be e-mailed to him.

He confirmed receiving the e-mail but failed to respond by the time of going to press.

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