Managers must go: Premier slams Msunduzi in Legislature

2010-04-23 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Zweli Mkhize yesterday called on all senior managers of the embattled Msunduzi Municipality to resign “as we will not accept or tolerate indolence, incompetence, corruption or any form of disloyalty to citizens”.

Mkhize made the call while presenting a report before the tabling and debate of the Health budget at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in Pietermaritzburg, yesterday.

He told the provincial lawmakers: “There is incontrovertible evidence where the rules of public administration have been flouted and supply and chain provisions undermined.

“It is now clear that we cannot expect the current executive directors/strategic management in the form of deputy municipality managers to guide the municipality out of this predicament.

“In fact, mounting evidence indicates that several of them are implicated in maladministration by act of omission or commission,” he added.

Mkhize went on to call on the deputy managers to do the “most honourable thing” for them, which is to resign.

“When the garrison falls, the general must fall on his sword.

“Their resignations, however, will not save them from arrest if implicated in criminal activity.”

Mkhize asked the newly appointed Msunduzi administrator, Johann Mettler, to act swiftly to suspend all the officials implicated in impropriety, to move speedily to press charges and initiate disciplinary steps against wrongdoers and not to hesitate to fire those who deserve it.

“Provincial government will stand ready to second senior officials to help rebuild systems, procedures and return the municipality to a state of good governance.

“As the leadership of this province, we must express our apologies to the ratepayers, business community and citizens of Msunduzi for the manner that this municipality has been managed.

“We are disappointed, but we believe the resignation of elected public representatives is not enough.

“We will work tirelessly to bring back the dignity of this municipality.”

Mkhize also appealed to trade unions and municipal staff to co-operate and support the administrator, the new mayor, Mike Tarr, and his team.

He said the intervention by the provincial government had been prompted by serious financial problems and the fact that the municipality was becoming dysfunctional.

“… we worked with this municipality over a few years, nursing a hope that things will improve.

“We had to intervene by assuming the executive obligations of Exco and the municipal council to the extent necessary to maintain established minimum standards for the rendering of a service,” the premier added.

Eventually, the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube had appointed Mettler and a task team.

Mettler has reported severe financial problems, Mkhize said, including a serious cash flow challenge, a reduction of about 50% in rate collections for March and April and the fact that the projected deficit continues to increase monthly.

Mettler said it is clear that the premier has information at his disposal that leads him to believe that people should resign.

“From my perspective, we are busy with ongoing investigations and are certainly poised to commence with disciplinary action against senior managers,” he said.

Mettler said acting municipal manager Kevin Perumal, procurement manager Francis Grantham and deputy municipal manager for community services Zwe Hulane were placed on special leave from yesterday until May 4.

Upon their return, they will have to give special reasons as to why they should not be suspended, the ­administrator said.

Perumal and the chief financial officer Roy Bridgmohan could not be reached for comment, and Hulane and acting deputy municipal manager for development services S’khumbuzo Mpanza both said they had no comment.

Grantham said he had performed his duties to the best of his ability, but that if he is to be placed on special leave and thereafter asked to respond to certain allegations, he will comply.

“What needs to be done, needs to be done,” Grantham said.

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