Johannesburg – The mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina, has denied allegations that he outsourced the writing of his PhD thesis to one of his speech-writers, who allegedly doubles as his researcher.
The allegations were made amid a bitter fight between Malaika Mahlatsi, the speech-writer in Masina’s office, and her ex-boyfriend.
It is believed that the drama began at the weekend when Mahlatsi’s ex-boyfriend allegedly threatened to produce evidence that Masina was being helped by Mahlatsi.
The allegation surfaced late on Monday when Mahlatsi wrote on Facebook that her ex-boyfriend was making false claims about the academic work.She later deactivated her Facebook account.
Masina yesterday issued a statement refuting the allegations. He said he was working on the thesis himself.
“The office of the executive mayor would also wish to clarify the following information regarding the claims that Ms Mahlatsi is doing a PhD on behalf of the executive mayor,” Masina’s office said.
“The executive mayor is in the early stage of preparing his research proposal for a doctoral degree in philosophy.
“At no point has any individual authored or contributed to the contents of the research proposal, including anyone who was reviewing or proofreading the material. The executive mayor has and continues to adhere to the student code of conduct of the institution.”
Meanwhile, before deactivating her Facebook account, Mahlatsi claimed she was not writing, but proofreading Masina’s academic work after the mayor requested her to do so. She further said her ex-boyfriend may have seen the work while using her laptop.
However, in a sudden twist, the City of Ekurhuleni announced that it would place Mahlatsi on suspension with full pay, while investigating allegations that she brought the mayor into disrepute by recklessly using social media.
“The office of the executive mayor has noted with great concern the circulation of an alleged audio-recording of Ms Mahlatsi on social media, in which she claims that the executive mayor decreased the salaries of staff members in the municipality without consultation. The claims are untrue and devoid of factuality,” the city said.
“The executive mayor, upon deciding to donate 33% of his salary to the Solidarity Fund, consulted the speaker of council, chief whip, members of the mayoral committee, the city manager, the group chief financial officer and, all heads of department to encourage them to join himself and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to contribute to the fund.”
In insisting that no one was coerced, the City said the above- mentioned elected public representatives and officials had signed pledge forms authorising the City’s department of human resources to deduct a portion of their salaries and redirect the donations to the Solidarity Fund.
“The executive mayor has no authority to decrease the salaries of municipal staff,” the City said in a statement.
By Sihle Mavuso