More than 15 employees of the Mtubatuba Municipality on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal have been suspended on allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds. The municipality has lost millions of rands due to corruption.

The Mtubatuba Local Municipality is a tourism hotspot.

The Isimangaliso Wetland Park, which was declared by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, is under the municipality. The municipality has been in the headlines for alleged reports of corruption and misappropriation of funds.

CoGTA in the province put the municipality under administration as it could not sustain itself financially. The municipality continues to be under administration.

According to reports, R177 million has disappeared.

Mayor of the municipality Mandla Zungu says the municipality’s financial situation is better now compared to the previous situation as it can sustain itself for a period of six months without any grants.

Zungu has confirmed that more than fifteen municipal employees have been suspended and some councillors are also facing charges of corruption.

“Yes, there is a certain activity that has taken in the municipality. There is a resolution that was taken by councillors that forensic investigation must take place as there were suspicions that there was something that was not going right in the municipality. The investigation resulted in some of our staff members being suspended and when they (were) suspended, due processes have been followed. Some staff members have gone through disciplinary hearings and some (were) dismissed.”

Zungu says among those who are charged for corruption include the Speaker of the municipality.

“It is true that the Speaker is also alleged to be involved in such activities,  but it was not in form of being an official. The Speaker is among those who claim more than what she was supposed to claim.”

Mtubatuba RatePayers Association Chairperson Rudy Redinger is concerned that the misappropriation of funds by the municipality will affect local residents.

Local resident Dumisani Mthembu echoes Redinger’s sentiments and says service delivery has been affected.

“We are not satisfied with the municipality. There are no proper ranks and people are not protected from the rain. There are potholes on the roads and there are no truck stops here. Trucks who transport goods from here to Durban cannot stop as they are not allowed due to the shortage of space. The municipality must keep checking everything and make sure that they bring service delivery to the people.”

Meanwhile, the Provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department’s Nonala Ndlovu says all municipal employees must learn a lesson that those who abuse public funds will be punished.

“The department is pleased with the developments at Mtubatuba and this is a strong demonstration that if an administrator has been appointed through the MEC and does the work, there will be great improvement in the municipality and it sends the strong (message) to the municipality employees to use funds for the benefit of the people. We hope that all municipalities will learn a lesson from Mtubatuba to ensure that monies are used wisely.”