Mettler contract renewal confusion

2010-10-01 00:00

THERE was confusion as to whether City Administrator Johann Mettler’s contract had been renewed or not after it transpired that he had not signed the new contract.

The situation started at Wednesday’s Msunduzi Municipality’s council meeting. DA Cllr Rodger Ashe asked Mettler and the mayor about their leaving an earlier meeting half way through. They had said they were going to sort out Mettler’s contract.

“Has the contract now been signed?” asked Ashe. Mettler said it had not. When asked why, he said some forms needed to be filled in.

Ashe later said that the undue delay in signing the administrator’s contract was ominous, “in that we would not like anything to derail the process until the turn-around of the city is complete and not half done”.

Ashe also raised the issue of the suspended officials and asked whether they were guilty or not. “This needs to be established as we cannot continue paying them,” he said.

Mettler responded that the matter was out of the municipality’s hands as the matter was now with the legal tribunal and disciplinary procedures were being conducted.

Cooperative Governance Department spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso said the technicality of having a form to fill in does not detract from the fact that the provincial government has given its commitment to turning the situation around at Msunduzi Municipality. “If Mettler is there today, then he will be there tomorrow,” said Mabaso.

On the issue of the suspended officials, Mabaso said that due process has to be followed. He said MEC for Cooperative Governance Nomsa Dube has made it clear that she did not want the process to go on for too long. The suspended officials must either be cleared of the charges or found guilty and not be a burden to the municipality.

According to Mabaso when officials are suspended this can be done without full pay, however the problem is that if anyone is found not guilty, then the municipality is faced with back paying exorbitant amounts and also often faces damages charges. Hence the approach of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

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