Controversial manager among candidates to head struggling municipality

2012-01-11 13:25

One of the candidates for the position of municipal manager of Stutterheim’s unstable Amahlathi Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape has resigned from her last job while facing a disciplinary hearing.

Acting municipal manager Vuyo Mbelani had resigned as strategic manager of the Amathole District Municipality while facing incompetence charges.

She could not be reached for comment as she was attending a meeting out of town, and her secretary refused to release her cellphone number. However, Amathole confirmed her resignation and pending disciplinary hearing.

Amahlathi is set to employ a permanent municipal manager after almost a year without one.

Three candidates, Mbelani, former South African Local Goverment Association (Salga) provincial chief executive Chris Magwangqana, and Mlamli Bongco have made the shortlist from which Amahlathi’s council will choose on January 23.

“I can’t confirm who the final candidates are or who the panel will recommend before council. That would be pre-empting the process,” said Amahlathi mayor and interview panellist, Mncekeleli Peter.

Peter said he was happy the municipality would soon have a permanent municipal manager.

Other people on the panel include the town’s chief whip, Nokuzola Mlahleki, two other councillors, and officials from Salga and the provincial department of local government.

The position became vacant after council resolved in February last year to dismiss previous manager Feziwe Shoba, ironically after she had led the town to an unqualified auditor-general finding. At the time the move was said to be fuelled by a purge by the ruling ANC’s caucus, which was divided by a political war between the region and province.

Union members and other employees who sat in on the interviews as observers confirmed the three finalists, saying Magwangqana scored the highest, followed by Bongco and Mbelani. They asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

Nxuba local municipality municipal manager Bongco confirmed he had attended interviews, as did Magwangqana, who is currently contracted as a senior manager in the mayor’s office at Amathole District Municipality. “I’ve heard nothing since the interviews, but they did say it was urgent so I expect any day they’ll let us know,” said Magwangqana.

In the past term, Amahlathi was unstable and operated without mayor and full executive for the better part of 2010 after the ANC expelled councillors, including former mayor Thembekile Jonas, it thought were linked to Cope.

During this period then-speaker Nomasikizi Khonza, who made headlines after it emerged she was earning another salary as a teacher, acted as mayor.

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