After a month, still no action on acting PMB city boss

2016-06-29 12:34
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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­Pietermaritzburg - Despite the overwhelming allegations against him, nothing seems to have been done to investigate ­Pietermaritzburg’s new city boss since he was ­appointed at the beginning of the month.

It appears Sizwe Hadebe will see his three-month tenure as Msunduzi municipal manager through after opposition parties were out-muscled in their attempt to oust him yesterday.

In a heated debate during a special executive ­committee (Exco) meeting at the City Hall, ­Democratic Alliance and National Freedom Party councillors displayed a united front in calling for ­Hadebe’s appointment to be revoked.

However, in the majority, ANC members voted for Hadebe to stay, despite the cloud hanging over his head.

Hadebe had barely settled into his job when the media exposed questions about his performance and ­conduct in his previous employment areas.

It was reported that Hadebe was suspended while at the Ekurhuleni Municipality after a Special ­Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into a contract for ­water meter installations by Lesira-Teq.

Hadebe was also the deputy chair of the National Water Advisory Council that advised Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, and had been previously employed by the City of Johannesburg when Lesira-Teq scored a R170 million deal to install water meters there.

The reports were made by the Sunday Times in 2012.

When Hadebe’s appointment in Pietermaritzburg was announced, it was discovered that he had changed his name last year from the original Adolph ­Slindokuhle Hadebe.

The Witness reported that the name Sizwe Hadebe was born after allegations arose over his tenure at the other municipalities, which he ended before ­disciplinary action could be taken against him.

Speaking at the meeting yesterday, DA councillor Judith Lawrence said Exco should rescind Hadebe’s appointment.

Seconding Lawrence’s submission “whole-heartedly”, DA councillor Bill Lambert said council had been “misled” by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), which submitted Hadebe’s CV to the municipality for consideration.

“We are in a crisis in our last meeting on the ­calendar. We cannot go out knowing our acting municipal manager [Hadebe] was placed in the position without us knowing all the details,” Lambert said.

“The appointment is wrong and irregular.”

Further interrogating Hadebe’s appointment, ­Lambert asked if any investigations into allegations posed in the media have since been conducted. ­Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said to the “best of [his] knowledge, there is none”.

NFP councillor Ntokozo Bhengu said although ­Hadebe was appointed in “good faith under guidance from Cogta”, he was “embarrassed and ashamed” when media reports exposed Hadebe’s past.

“We did not know about his past. We assumed all the information was correct. The NFP supports the DA’s proposal,” Bhengu said.

The matter was put to vote and the trio were ­outnumbered six to three.

ANC councillor Jabu Ngubo, who requested the meeting to continue confidentially but then changed her mind after a short party caucus, said there is no reason to doubt Hadebe’s appointment and that a decision could not be made based on media reports.

“[Hadebe] is innocent until proven guilty,” Ngubo said.

Hadebe, who was present at the meeting, asked to excuse himself when the debate began.

DA mayoral candidate for Msunduzi Mergan ­Chetty said in a statement that the “ANC-led ­Msunduzi Municipality and Cogta must take ­collective responsibility for this huge embarrassment to an already beleaguered municipality”.

“Council must honestly report that only one ­curriculum vitae was presented to Exco and hence the hurried appointment of Hadebe due to the ­conspicuous failings of both Boniwe Zulu and Dr Ray Ngcobo,” said Chetty.

He said Exco was misled, as was the case in 2009 when Johan Mettler was brought into the then failing municipality and very little came of that appointment. “Exco accepted Hadebe’s credentials in good faith believing the ANC and Cogta vetted the individual …”

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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