Sick Haswell quits as city boss

2010-03-27 00:00

MSUNDUZI’S municipal meltdown continued yesterday with the resignation of municipal manager Rob Haswell.

Haswell’s resignation comes barely a week after the ANC reshuffled the political leadership at the troubled municipality.

It has been almost two months since Haswell took stress leave, and in the meantime, the municipality has made national headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Haswell’s term has been steeped in controversy as allegations of financial mismanagement and maladministration were frequently levelled at him.

Always quick to defend claims that the municipality faced severe financial problems, Haswell eventually went underground when the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department stepped in alongside the Finance Department and took control following months of negative media reports.

No one has managed to get comment from Haswell, and a previous request by then Msunduzi mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo for a report detailing how many days the ever-absent Haswell was actually at work never materialised.

Sixty-five-year-old Haswell still had one-and-a-half years to go until his contract came to an end.

New Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr said the resignation would come into effect from April 1.

“There’s no golden handshake. He’ll get his pension benefits and that’s it,” he said.

Tarr said Kevin Perumal will continue as acting municipal manager, but should Msunduzi administrator Johann Mettler require Haswell’s assistance, it may be necessary for him to provide it.

Mettler said the situation is not complicated and his team will still investigate to get to the bottom of what has led to the municipality’s financial meltdown.

“Obviously all past and present employees who can assist will be asked to do so. It’s difficult to say at this stage whether Haswell will be investigated. It depends on the nature of the investigations and we don’t know where they can lead as yet,” he said.

Attempts to get comment from Haswell were unsuccessful.

IFP caucus leader Dolo Zondi said: “Good riddance. He really messed up the municipality. We were totally against his appointment.”

Zondi said he boycotted Haswell’s employment process because he had no faith in him.

Zondi said all senior managers must be investigated as others were also responsible for the municipality’s financial mess.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Bill Lambert said Haswell’s departure was a foregone conclusion.

“It had to happen. Unfortunately, he was involved in a lot of mismanagement and it was impossible for him to continue trying to serve more than one master because he also received instructions from the ANC’s regional executive committee,” said Lambert.

He said Haswell’s resignation was a very wise move on his part and it is best for everyone concerned.

“We welcome the announcement. I’m sure there will be more [resignations] to follow,” he said.

Co-operative governance MEC Nomusa Dube confirmed Haswell’s resignation, citing ill-health.

Dube wished him a speedy recovery and said “we hope that he will soon have strength to enable him to facilitate a smooth hand-over to the new administration of the municipality”.

 

• A FORMER geography lecturer

• Bade farewell to higher education in favour of joining the Progressive Federal Party and was elected to Parliament.

• Heavily involved in politics in the pre-1994 era and served as a Democratic Party mayor.

• Accused by residents of the northern areas of protecting white ratepayers at the expense of coloured and Indian ratepayers, and 10 000 of them marched to the city hall in protest in the late 1980s.

• Joined the ANC while still a member of Parliament.

• Transitional local council mayor for one-and-a-half years from 1995.

• Appointed a municipal official thereafter and later became town clerk.

• Lost out to Bheki Nene over the municipal manager’s post and put in charge of the economic development and black economic empowerment (BEE) division. He had major run-ins with ratepayers during this time as many claimed no BEE took place under his watch.

• Applied for eThekwini Metro’s municipal manager post, but lost out to Dr Michael Sutcliffe.

• Eventually clinched the municipal manager post after Nene’s replacement, Thabane Zulu, resigned in 2007.

• “Managing a large municipality such as ours is a very demanding … job … Proof of this is that since 2000, in six of our country’s nine largest municipalities, the manager has been suspended, and several have resigned,” said Haswell when he was appointed acting municipal manager in 2007.

 

 

He’s running away from the problems he created. The ANC must take all the blame because they deployed him. Dolo Zondi, IFP

He’s running away from the problems he created. The ANC must take all the blame because they deployed him. Dolo Zondi, IFP

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