Municipality’s head of good governance allegedly scored R3.5-million in tenders

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

By Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

27 November 2023

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.

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:

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 COGTA 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.

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.”