Ex-Msunduzi MM tells all

2017-01-23 10:19
Ex Msunduzi municipal manager tells all
Exclusive: Nkosi reveals the pain and joy that followed his ousting from City Hall.

Ex Msunduzi municipal manager tells all Exclusive: Nkosi reveals the pain and joy that followed his ousting from City Hall. (File)

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An emotional former Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi has revealed for the first time in an exclusive interview what really happened behind closed doors.

The events led to rumours of theft and corruption, in-fighting and eventually his suspension last year.

Nkosi’s contract reached its end on December 31, 2016 but he said he knew his days were numbered more than a year before.

“It started in October 2015, when we were finalising the preparations for the ANC provincial conference.”

Nkosi said he sat with then chairperson of the region, Supa Zuma, and shared with him the reasons he supported Senzo Mchunu. Nkosi said he declared that his support would come out of his “own, personal time” and he would not use his position in council to “fundraise” for his preferred candidate.

Nkosi said the chief reason he supported Senzo Mchunu was “the fact that some people were deliberately destroying the movement and I could not be associated with that”.

“At that time the Moses Mabhida Region supported Sihle [Zikalala] but ... I supported Senzo [Mchunu].

“That was where the breakdown in the relationship began,” he said.

Political interference

Msunduzi Municipality last year implemented their new organogram structures, but Nkosi said it was during the planning and evaluating of all jobs that the political interference “became too much to bear”.

“Coincidently the planning meeting was meant to start a week after the ANC provincial conference,” he said.

He said there were strong suspicions that the new organogram structures would not benefit those who supported Mchunu. In December 2015, Nkosi said there were at least six political meetings to sort out the placements.

“There were a lot of allegations against me, but no proof.

“At this time it became painfully obvious that my days at the municipality were numbered,” he said.

The Hit List

In January 2016, Nkosi’s close friend, traffic officer Superintendent Pumla Dlamini, was killed in his Washington Road office.

Nkosi said preparing for the funeral was “painful”, but it still did not stop the political leaders calling for another meeting to discuss the placement issues.

“This time you could see they were going for the jugular vein,” he said.

To add salt to the wounds of the embattled former manager, Nkosi received information that he was second on the “hit list”. “It really shocked us because Pumla [Dlamini] was on that list and he had already been killed. I believe that list was true as there were attempts to kill me,” he said.

In August 2015, Nkosi said his guard was stabbed outside his Durban house. The man was hospitalised for six weeks and this was “a huge wake-up call” for the Nkosi household.

“We then moved into a new house, but kept our old address on all my documents at City Hall, so no one would know our new address,” he said.

Nkosi said he “always felt” he was in danger while employed as Msunduzi’s municipal manager.

Humiliation and dirty dealings

Nkosi said February 2016 would go down as “the most painful” month in his life as he was subjected to humiliation and eventually his suspension.

“I have been a politician for 26 years and I can deal with the pressures, but I know my story and I do not take kindly to being humiliated. That was becoming the order of the day at Msunduzi,” he said.

Nkosi said that toward the end of the month, he found out “through the grapevine” that Community Services manager Boniwe Zulu was called by the ANC region and told that she would begin acting as city manager.

When a full council meeting was called, Nkosi said he learnt that a series of meetings had begun taking place at the City Hall since 6 am.

“I knew that was the day I would be suspended because when I got to work at 6.30 am someone had already parked in my parking and there were two police vans stationed outside City Hall.

“I knew this was it,” he said.

Nkosi said when the message he dreaded to hear finally sank in, he only thought of how he would leave with his head held high. “I had to take charge … and not leave on their terms,” he said.

He was called into a meeting at 7.10 am and told by the provincial ANC executive that they had tasked Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube to launch an investigation into the municipality. “The provincial ANC executive asked me to take special leave while the investigation was ongoing, but I told them to charge and suspend me,” he said.

Taken by surprise, the executive committee agreed to allow Nkosi at least seven days to plan his exit.

“Taking special leave would have undermined the processes I put in place. In my time there I disciplined at least 500 employees and suspended about 250. Why should I be treated differently?

“The process was painful as it was done in front of my subordinates, the public and the media, but I had to stomach it,” he said.

The last bow

On March 4, 2016 Nkosi’s frames, certificates, gifts and pictures were all packed in boxes. He said it was common knowledge that this would be his last day.

“I prepared my farewell speech as I knew it would be the last time I would address the council. I also told the council that I would leave as soon as I delivered my speech as I did not want to put the councillors I worked with through the embarrassment of voting against me in my presence,” he said.

While delivering his speech, Nkosi said there were some councillors who “sat emotionless” but there were others “who even shed a tear”.

“I ended my speech and faced the ANC caucus and took my last bow,” he said.

Nkosi said he did not wait for the council decision and packed his car and went home.

“I just sat back at home and reminisced. It was that day that I started planning my defence strategy, contacted my attorneys and waited,” he said.

The aftermath

“The things that were said about me afterward were hurtful,” he said.

Within a short space of time, Nkosi’s “dream team” was dismantled. “They were guilty by association,” he said.

He said it was most painful to watch from afar. His 10 months at home were both joyous and painful. He took his children to school and sports events and helped with their homework.

But his suspension, the rumours and allegations took a toll on his elderly mother, who spent almost a month in the St Anne’s Hospital.

During this time she asked him not to visit her.

“She just did not want me to come to Pietermaritzburg. She feared for my life and my sanity if I returned,” he said.

The next episode

Nkosi has now been appointed by a private company as their chief operating officer. 

Based in Durban, Nkosi said he has moved on to the engineering and construction world and vowed never to work for a municipality again.

“This new venture is presenting very exciting propositions for me and I really hope this will be a good year,” he said.

He said, looking back, he was not bitter. “I came to Msunduzi and gave it my all. I know that there are certain things I did that they would not be able to replicate. As an ANC activist I wish them well as Msunduzi is an organ of state that is led by the ANC.

“But now I need my space to perform to the best of my ability for my new employer,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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