Umgeni Water CEO Cyril Gamede amicably agreed to leave the water utility at the weekend, despite being cleared of corruption allegations.
Gamede was recently suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. This followed the leaking of information about his alleged wrongdoing at the utility. Two members of the utility’s board as well as certain staff members were also mentioned in the leaked emails.
A team of accountants and forensic auditors were initially appointed by the board once the emails came to light, and the claims made against Gamede were probed.
Gamede was serving his five-year contract with the utility, which would have initially ended on 19 August this year, but was extended by the board for an additional two years.
According to Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder, the Department of Water and Sanitation is now in control of an investigation that is looking into the named board members and employees.
“The investigation will be conducted by a forensic investigation team‚” Harichunder said.
General manager of operations Msizi Cele has in the meantime been appointed acting CEO at the utility.
Harichunder said a mutual agreement was reached with the outgoing board last Friday for Gamede to leave the utility with immediate effect.
According to Harichunder, Gamede’s legal team met with the board to negotiate a financial settlement for the two years he would have served at the utility. He added that based on legal advice, the board decided to settle on payment.
Anonymous apology letter
Harichunder said an anonymous email letter was sent to the board on the day negotiations took place. In the letter, the allegations made against Gamede, the named board members and employees were withdrawn.
“The writer/s of this anonymous letter also apologised for making the allegations and expresses regret for his/her/their action‚” Harichunder said in a statement.
An excerpt of the apology letter reads: “I realise now that this organisation has been stable for over 40 years and through my actions I could have caused irreparable damage to the reputation and the standing of this organisation. These letters were sent in anger; I was angry because we felt that the transformation agenda pushed by the CEO has been excluding us as minorities that are not looked after.
“I felt that the Executive Leadership was not pushing hard the Radical Economic Transformation and we couldn’t handle the pressure as the minority of this transformation. My motives could even have been racially motivated and for that I am ashamed and deeply remorseful.
“In so doing I feel that this has begun to negatively pull against this organisation and I profusely apologise. I would also like to unconditionally withdraw my accusation against the CEO‚ Executives‚ the Organisation‚ Board Members‚ suppliers‚ stakeholders‚ and named parties that may have been negatively affected in any way. The state of this organisation is even starting to affect my family as well and we are in shaky ground by my doing.”