Council: Suspend Mpanza

2008-01-31 00:00

Manager in the office of the mayor, Skhumbuzo Mpanza, may soon be suspended.

The council voted on Wednesday to instruct municipal manager Rob Haswell to implement a full council resolution taken on December 18 to suspend Mpanza for instructing secretarial staff to not service the full council meeting, while he was acting municipal manager.

Council also resolved that an investigation and possible disciplinary action be taken against him, which has not happened.

While Haswell was on leave, there was a power struggle between Mpanza and Zwe Hulane, who were both appointed to act in his absence.

Mpanza was stripped of the position, but later reinstated with the support of Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, who said Mpanza was appointed by Haswell and herself, and that the December 18 meeting that fired him was not properly convened.

On his return, Haswell was made aware of the situation, but took no action and declined to comment.

Council speaker Alpha Shelembe reported to council on Wednesday that he had studied the relevant rules, and that the council’s legal adviser agreed that the December 18 meeting was properly convened, as the speaker is allowed to call a meeting during a recess.

Shelembe said Haswell did not follow the relevant council resolution on acting appointments, which stipulated that he should consult a member of the executive committee other than the mayor.

Council resolved to investigate circumstances surrounding the appointment of Mpanza, to ascertain wether any disciplinary action should be taken against Mpanza.

Council will appoint an independent legal professional to investigate what actions should be taken against Mpanza for influencing municipal staff members to not carry out their duties.

If found guilty, Mpanza could be liable to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years. The speaker will table a report to the next full council meeting on progress.

Democratic Alliance councillor Mark Steele said the appointment of an independent legal adviser is unusual, but the DA is glad council is making headway in resolving the matter.

"We hope that the investigation will clarify the many grey areas that this matter has brought to light regarding the legality and validity of appointments," he said.

thabi@witness.co.za

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