Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: SOWETAN

A clash over an investigation of alleged irregularities has further strained the relationship between the DA-led Joburg metro and the ANC-run Gauteng government.

The provincial government said it would investigate irregularities in the metro, prompting mayor Herman Mashaba to accuse Uhuru Moiloa, Gauteng’s MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs, of abusing his position for "political points scoring".

Moiloa had written to Mashaba earlier in August informing the mayor of an investigation into alleged irregularities in the City of Johannesburg, in terms of section 106 (1)(b) of the Municipal Systems Act.

Moiloa has designated the Gauteng Forensic Investigation Services Unit of the provincial treasury to investigate, among others, irregular appointments, whether there was an irregular salary increase given to Mashaba’s chief of staff, Michael Beaumont, whether Mashaba interfered in the city’s administration, and whether there was any validity to the claim that he purged employees in the city.

Uhuru Moiloa. Picture: SOWETAN/ THULANI MBELE
Uhuru Moiloa. Picture: SOWETAN/ THULANI MBELE

The unit was given 90 days to investigate, make findings, report on and make recommendations to Moiloa.

Mashaba, who is a DA member and who has taken a strong anticorruption stance since he took to office, was elected as mayor following the local government elections in 2016, which placed the ANC on the opposition benches.

The provincial government, which faces a tough election in 2019, is governed by the ANC, which took a massive knock at the municipal level when it lost the metros of Tshwane and Johannesburg to DA-led coalition governments as well as in the 2014 national poll.

Mashaba, in a letter dated August 13 and released by the city on Wednesday, accused Moiloa of taking a complaint from the ANC in Johannesburg "essentially verbatim", and using legislation to commission an investigation already undertaken by the public protector "without first seeking any engagement from the city".

Mashaba said the investigation was "drastic and unwarranted", given that the intergovernmental framework had not yet been engaged with.

He said the city was confident that if the provincial co-operative governance and traditional affairs department sat down with its officials, it would come to the conclusion that the allegations were without merit and did not justify the investigation.

"The intergovernmental framework is very clear in its objective for spheres of government to avoid engaging another in a manner that avoid unnecessary litigation. I believe that the people of Johannesburg, and Gauteng would like to see the two of us engaging in the intergovernmental relations framework rather than proceeding to drastic measures, distracting us from service delivery priorities," Mashaba said.

He said the city was willing to engage before the proceedings started, and that if the investigation were halted, the city would be "entirely transparent and willing to answer questions" on the issues raised.

The city reserved its rights if Moiloa did not take up the offer.

Keith Khoza, deputy director-general in the Gauteng co-operative governance and traditional affairs department, said on Thursday that the department’s position was clear: it was the MEC’s constitutional responsibility to identify and fight corruption in pursuit of effective and clean government.

"The MEC will not be deterred from doing that by the rantings of the mayor. The mayor should be throwing his weight behind the MEC to fight corruption, as opposed to challenging the MEC," Khoza said.

"He is sending the wrong message that is condoning wrongdoing because he is not coming out to support the good cause of fighting corruption and maladministration."