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EC municipality head of good governance embroiled in alleged tender scandal worth R3.5-million

EC municipality head of good governance embroiled in alleged tender scandal worth R3.5-million
The Matatiele Local Municipality’s head of good governance, PR Councillor Mzwamandla Nyembezi (ANC), is under investigation by Cogta and the Hawks for allegedly benefitting from R3.5-million in tenders. (Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik)

The PR councillor will continue working at Matatiele Local Municipality while the Hawks and Cogta investigate.

An ANC PR Councillor, who is head of good governance and special programmes in the Matatiele Local Municipality, Eastern Cape, is under investigation. PR Councillor Mzwamandla Nyembezi allegedly benefitted from R3.5-million in municipal tenders.

Mziomhle Trading allegedly received sub-contracts for electrification of Mkhemana and Phalane villages in Matatiele’s ward 22, according to Eastern Cape Hawks spokesperson Yolisa Mgolodela.

Nyembezi, a director of Mziomhle since 2016, resigned in November 2021 according to a CIPC search, but sources close to the investigation claim he still controls the company and is the bank account signatory. Currently, the company’s sole active member is Simbongile Nyembezi, a close relative.

The contracts were for electrification and connection of houses in the 2022/23 financial year:

  • 275 households at Hillside-Manzi for R1,778,359;
  • 50 households at Sikhulumi for R374,886;
  • 530 households in Tshepisong (Molweni) for R600,000;
  • 225 households in Masopha for R448,000; and
  • 80 households in Mapoti for R320,000.

The work has apparently been completed.

The Eastern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Pheello Oliphant said the department is also investigating Nyembezi and that Ccogta MEC Zolile Williams has sent officials to Matatiele.

In June Nyembezi was reported by an anonymous whistleblower to the Public Service Commission for the irregular appointment of a company that then subcontracted to Mziomhle, and Williams then notified the municipality.

Read more in Daily Maverick: North West department head charged over R470m Brits Hospital tender

In July DA MPL Vicky Knoetze wrote to Williams requesting Nyembezi be suspended, pending the investigation. Knoetze alleged that Nyembezi had directly benefited through a construction procurement policy that encourages the participation of local small and medium businesses in infrastructure projects.

Nyembezi told GroundUp he cannot comment on the matter, and referred us to municipal spokesperson Luncedo Walaza.

Walaza said a council meeting on 27 July resolved to allow Cogta to conduct an investigation. He said Nyembezi promised full cooperation.

Walaza said as far as the municipality was concerned Nyembezi was presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But DA PR councillor Wonga Potwana says Nyembezi ought to be suspended until the investigation is finalised. Potwana said investigations by Cogta take a long time.

Matatiele Business Chamber member Zolile Mosweu said, “We are not aware of the allegations. If there are such allegations, the law is very clear — that any public servants or representatives are not allowed to tender.” DM

First published by GroundUp.


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