Dagada comes out with guns blazing over suspension

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Suspended City of Johannesburg member of the mayoral committee for finance, Rabelani Dagada.
Suspended City of Johannesburg member of the mayoral committee for finance, Rabelani Dagada.

Suspended City of Johannesburg (COJ) member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for finance Rabelani Dagada has come out fighting over the way he was removed from the position.

Dagada, who is a prominent ICT figure, was appointed MMC for finance in 2016 after opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrestled Johannesburg from the ANC following municipal elections.

However, yesterday COJ mayor Herman Mashaba issued a statement saying in consultation with the DA's federal executive, he had "taken the extraordinary step of removing Cllr Rabelani Dagada as the MMC of finance in the City of Johannesburg".

The suspension is pending an enquiry of the DA's federal legal commission, Mashaba says.

Among the reasons for Dagada's suspension, Mashaba cites breaching the city's code of conduct, nepotism, conflicts of interests and price fixing, among others. The mayor said the MMC's actions were "unforgivable" and "acted against his sworn duty to our residents".

Jobs for pals

These allegations came to light following a forensic investigation into Dagada's conduct.

Last year, Dagada was named in a "jobs for pals" scandal for allegedly enriching his friend Seth Mukwevho by facilitating access to lucrative tenders. Mukwevho, who is currently the department's group head of treasury, "irregularly" received a two-month contract of over R190 000, allegedly due to his long-standing relationship with Dagada.

In an exclusive interview with ITWeb this morning, Dagada said he vehemently denies those allegations because the mayor based his decision on a draft report and not the final report.

"The mayor dismissed me as MMC for finance and I was also responsible for the political direction of IT within the city. I accepted the decision as I served at the pleasure of the mayor. However, I remain the PR councillor for the City of Johannesburg," Dagada said.

With regards to the suspension, the DA, due to the serious nature of the allegations, may decide to suspend me from the party activities, he pointed out.

Dagada alleges the mayor wrote his own report differently to the one that he was given by his lawyers.

"His report is different from the DA rules and the council rules - for example, in regards to the 'jobs for pals' story, the forensic report found that I had nothing to do with those appointments directly or indirectly. I did not have any influence on that and the report is very clear on that.

"However, this is where we have a problem with my lawyers - the mayor took advantage of the fact that the report says in as much as there is no evidence against me, the perception that I may have influenced the process cannot be dismissed. So my lawyers and I are objecting to that and we were considering going to court but we were told by senior counsel that we cannot go to court to challenge a draft report. We will only challenge when it is a final report."

Dirty war

He also purported that there is another matter where two women who were under investigation were put under pressure to make allegations about him. He noted that according to these allegations, he forced the women to sign some tender documents.

"Anybody who knows how the council works will know that this is nonsense. For instance, as the MMC, where would I have obtained a tender document? Anything that is worth more than R30 000 has to go through the treasury; from there companies make submissions; and those submissions are then tabled at the bids evaluations committee; and from there to the executive adjudication committee which is done publicly. A recommendation is then made to the city manager to appoint the successful bidder," Dagada charged.

"So how will I now say to these ladies, who are not the city manager, 'sign these documents?' Anyone who knows how the city works will know this is a dirty political war, much dirtier than what I would have expected.

"Also, when there are allegations against a councillor, rules say those allegations must be taken to the ethics committee - you don't just go to the media, you are not allowed to do so before you inform the ethics committee. The reason why they do that is to avoid things like this from happening because these allegations have not been tested. It's dangerous."

With regards to the DA, Dagada said the allegations should be taken to the federal legal commission where he would appear and give his side of the story.

"I can assure you that my name will be cleared. However, what bothers me is that when that time comes when my name is cleared, I may not get this kind of media attention, unfortunately."

IT personality

A veteran in the South African ICT industry in his own right, among other accomplishments Dagada previously served as president of the Institute of IT Professionals SA, formerly the Computer Society of SA.

Before his appointment as MMC of finance, Dagada was a lecturer at Wits University. On his LinkedIn profile, he says he is professor of practice in Digital Practice in the Postgraduate School of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg.

Prior to his suspension, he worked as COJ's political head for the smart city programme as well as political head for broadband services and ICT.

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