Opposition parties in the Alfred Duma Municipality raised an urgent motion of no confidence during a special council meeting held in chambers late last week against the Speaker Themba Ngubane.

The motion was based on corruption and nepotism pertaining the appointment of the Speaker’s wife to the position of senior citizen/disability cleaner. According to the motion by the opposition parities, his wife has never worked in the said office. “We, therefore request that this council seeks the involvement of the Hawks to dig deep into these alleged allegations made and that Speaker be removed from his current position,” said the motion of no confidence.

During the council meeting the motion was left as the last point on the agenda. The ruling party has given opposition parties two weeks to resolve the matter. After the meeting, it was believed that the Speaker’s wife tendered her registration “with immediate effect”. In other signed documents it was claimed that the Alfred Duma Municipality extended her contact for another six months in the same position. The opposition parties claimed to have income tax documents showing that the Speaker’s collected a salary of R 10 000.

“It is believed Speaker’s wife was working for the municipality, since 2016,” the opposition parties told the Ladysmith Herald, claiming that that there was more corruption within the municipality. They claimed that ghost employees were only the “tip of the ice-berg”.

Reports later revealed that the Speaker was suspended on the same day as the council meeting, however, according to municipal communications manager Siyabonga Maphalala, this was not true.

“Allow me on behalf of council to confirm that Councillor Themba Ngubane was not suspended and is still serving as mandated,” said Maphalala. A press release from Alfred Duma Municipality said that the allegations that the municipality has “ghost employees” would be “investigated thoroughly”.

“The municipal manager, Ms SS Ngiba, collectively with the management team of all municipal departments, have resolved to intervene speedily on the matter. The municipal manager has instructed the municipal auditors to undertake a verification exercise of all employees in the salary payroll of council,” said Maphalala in the statement.

“‘Ghost employees’ identification and eradication needs a collective managerial leadership effort between all those tasked with the responsibility to manage the municipality, its sections and functional operations, hence this exercise.”

Employees were told to take their identity documents or driver’s licence as proof of identity.

They were also encouraged to report “ghost employees” in liaison with the relevant team leaders or section supervisors, who will appear on the day of verification, so that the “interests of the council” will be protected.

A municipal employee head count would be conducted on the dates in line with a schedule.

“The Office of the Municipal Manager is championing an open door perspective approach for reporting on anyone who has information of those paid by council without performing any duties,” added Maphalala.