Advocate S’du Gumede, who was recently suspended after a closed council meeting due to allegations of maladministration, has accused Johannesburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba of orchestrating a campaign to discredit him and “destroy that [Ombusdman’s] office”.
Gumede was reacting to an interview Mashaba granted Radio 702, in which he accused Gumede of financial maladministration. Mashaba said a company with links to Gumede, which was given a tender to operate a call centre on behalf of the ombudsman, had “disappeared from the face of the earth”.
Johannesburg was the first municipality in Gauteng to launch an office of the ombudsman in 2015.
Mayoral spokesperson Tony Taverna-Turisan confirmed to The Citizen earlier this month that two senior managers had been suspended but declined to divulge details of the decision made at the closed council meeting.
Speaking to the radio station, Gumede said the problem with the mayor was that “he has completely lost the plot, and he is surrounded by people who won’t tell him this”.
Gumede said he was not involved in the tender process that resulted in the dissipated company.
It was James Selfe [DA federal council chair] who told him to say those things
“The agreement was between the City and that company. When I joined the City, I mentioned that I had been involved with this company that I formed with a mutual friend two years prior to my appointment. I declared this to the City without anyone asking me and even disclosed it in my last quarterly to the council,” Gumede explained, and revealed he believed Mashaba had an agenda.
“He [Mashaba] had been very negative about this office even before he became a mayor. We had a meeting, and he admitted that he had been misled and said it was James Selfe [DA federal council chair] who told him to say those things,” he said.
“I think the main reason is that he wants to destroy that office because it was set up by the previous [ANC-led] council, and he can’t take credit for it. That office is doing wonderful work with limited resources. I am filing an urgent application with Labour Court today to set aside my suspension using my own money. They are using council money [to pursue him through the courts] while I am using my own money. This is unfair,” he deliberated.
When The Citizen tried calling the call centre number, 087 980 0058, an automated message announced: “Your account has been logged.” The website of the ombudsman is currently nonfunctional, with the following message on the landing page: “Coming soon. The Ombudsman website. Revitalized and ready to serve.”