WITH reference to the article, "Wrangle over appointment lands metro auditor in trouble" (September 17), as a member of the municipal public accounts committee who sat in this closed session meeting, I am extremely concerned that The Herald saw it fit to publish what amounts to an irresponsible article that holds the potential for destroying a well- respected professional career.
As all councillors are legislatively bound by council's policies and the councillor code of conduct, I am legally unable to provide you with the true account of the discussion that unfolded in committee, save to say that the unfounded accusations made against Bonnie Chan came about as a result of the acting municipal manager not being familiar with council's employment policies and procedures. Yet again, our legal services department grossly erred on the day by not assisting the acting municipal manager with the correct position therein.
Chan is the head of an internal audit department that, despite its severe staff shortages, has always managed to provide high quality forensic reports and investigations in spite of the challenges faced. Under Chan's stewardship, this department has continuously exposed corruption and fraud within the institution.
The spectre of institutional corruption is unfortunately something that appears to be never too far from the surface in this administration. The real story here is that the internal audit department under Chan is currently busy with a number of high profile investigations against both senior municipal officials and certain councillors. These investigations are on the brink of being completed and it is no secret that there are a number of individuals who would be very happy to see her leave this institution.
I am well aware that there are councillors who are particularly concerned about the possibility that they might be implicated in one or more of these forensic investigations. It is these very councillors who have been at the forefront in endeavouring to remove both the acting municipal manager and Chan from this institution, and it is reasonably suspected that these are more than likely the same councillors who provided The Herald with the information that was published.
A number of years ago we saw this institution lose an excellent municipal manager due to unfounded allegations which in the end proved to be baseless and nothing more than a political witch-hunt. I sincerely hope that history won't be repeating itself.
Given the current political instability in the metro, we all share a collective responsibility to do whatever it takes to stabilise the institution as quickly as possible. I therefore appeal to The Herald to continue with its own important role within this process, but would nonetheless stress the importance of ethical journalism that is fair, accurate and responsible at all times.
Retief Odendaal, DA councillor Ward 6 and member of the municipal public accounts committee, NMB
THE Herald stands by its report. We respect councillor Odendaal's view on the matter, however, we believe it is completely in the public interest and constitutes responsible journalism to inform residents of Nelson Mandela Bay about a topical issue involving the office of the metro's internal auditor. We eagerly await the outcome of the investigation and will give it equal attention. – Nwabisa Makunga, The Herald politics editor