The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZulu-Natal has said eThekwini City Manager Sipho Nzuza must pay for his own legal fees.
The party said it was disappointed and disapproves of the decision by the eThekwini Municipality to foot Nzuza’s legal bill.
Last week, Nzuza was granted R50,000 bail with conditions after he appeared at the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday on charges including, among others, corruption, money laundering, and racketeering over a Durban solid waste tender.
IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said Nzuza, who earns about R3.6 million per annum, should pay for his own legal bill.
Hlabisa said the decision by the eThekwini Municipality to pay for Nzuza’s legal fees “is nothing more than” rewarding and promoting “corruption”.
“This irresponsible decision will send a wrong message to others that they are free to loot the public money if they are employed by the municipality because the municipality will pay for their legal fees. Nzuza can afford to pay for his legal fees as he earns R3.6 million a year,” Hlabisa said.
The party said the municipality’s decision to pay for Nzuza’s legal fees is “an insult to the residents of eThekwini who are without proper housing, unemployed and experience poor service delivery daily”.
“We cannot allow the situation where public funds are used to pay legal fees for corruption implicated officials. We demand that the eThekwini Municipality must withdraw its decision to pay for the Nzuza’s legal fees.
“There are no grounds for the eThekwini Municipality to find it proper and correct to pay for Nzuza’s legal fees at the expense of the taxpayers. Why is the eThekwini Municipality is treating Nzuza with soft gloves?”
Hlabisa said the municipality would battle to recuperate the money if Nzuza is found guilty because at that stage “he will be in prison”.
“This is ridiculous to the taxpayers who must foot the bill for criminals. The person steals from the voter and the voter must then foot his bill. This is wrong,” Hlabisa said.
The IFP further called on the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for cooperate governance and traditional affairs Sipho Hlomuka to intervene and ensure that Nzuza pays his own legal fees and that public funds are not used to “pay for his corruption implicated activities”.
The party said it welcomes the news that Nzuza has taken leave from work.
“To us, this was equal to the call we made last week that he must be suspended to allow the case not to be interfered with by his presence at work.”
Nzuza is implicated alongside former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and former councillor Mondli Mthembu, among others, in their role in solid waste contracts now said to be valued at close to R500 million.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)