Search for permanent City head

2017-07-10 14:47
Hadebe, Ngcobo and Moyo front-runners.

Hadebe, Ngcobo and Moyo front-runners. (File images)

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Who will lead Msunduzi out of its dark times and when will that happen?

It has been a year since controversial Sizwe Hadebe took up the position as acting city manager in Msunduzi, but now questions are rife as to who will be appointed permanently.

Last week marked one year since Hadebe was appointed acting municipal manager, and months since the position was advertised nationally calling for suitable candidates.

Hadebe is believed to have applied for the permanent position.

Sources have also revealed that general manager for Economic Development Dr Ray Ngcobo and Mpofana municipal manager Max Moyo are also possible front-runners for the Msunduzi manager’s position.

The Witness could not reach Hadebe for comment to confirm if he did apply for the position and Ngcobo said he had “no comment” on the matter.

But a report regarding the city manager position was brought to a recent full council meeting, and “those who had interests in the post” were asked to recuse themselves. Ngcobo and Hadebe responded by leaving the council chamber.

Moyo confirmed he did apply for the post, but said he could not comment further on the matter.

Hadebe has been at the helm of the municipality for a year, with ratepayers and councillors from opposition parties calling it “one of the most tumultuous years in the history of the municipality”.

Hadebe was selected from a list that included three names ­recommended by Cogta, after the municipality requested that the ­department second an official temporarily to take charge.

This, after the municipality found itself in turbulent times when former city manager Mxolisi Nkosi was suspended, and Ngcobo and another controversial general manager, Boniwe Zulu, stepped in for a few months.

At that time opposition parties called for Hadebe’s appointment to be revoked, but were out-muscled by the majority ANC councillors.

Hadebe was initially appointed for three months, but a special request from Cogta and Salga meant he was kept on until a suitable and permanent candidate was appointed.

He had barely settled into his job when the media raised questions about his performance and ­conduct in his previous employment area.

A source from within the municipality said that the City has started the process to fill the position permanently, and that interviews with the possible candidates are being conducted.

Candidate 1: Sizwe Hadebe

Hadebe’s past came to light early in his appointment as acting city manager last year. 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 adopted after allegations arose over his tenure at the other municipalities, which he ended before ­disciplinary action could be taken against him.

Candidate 2: Dr Ray Ngcobo

Dr Ray Ngcobo has disciplinary charges pending against him and the status of his disciplinary hearing remains incomplete.

He holds the position of general manager for Economic and Sustainable Development in Msunduzi Municipality.

Ngcobo faces two charges of gross ­misconduct, two of gross dishonesty and one of gross negligence.

According to the charge sheet, which was leaked to The Witness, Ngcobo is accused of ordering furniture for the city’s Tourism Hub “without following the municipality’s supply chain management processes”.

He also allegedly paid close to R7 million to a company, ostensibly contracted to provide temporary housing for the Jika Joe project, but which had not delivered on the contract. Allied to those two charges, Ngcobo is accused of inciting other municipal staff to engage in ­unprocedural and unlawful conduct, financial misconduct, and of improperly using his ­position and influence.

He was also fingered as the subject of an investigation by the suspended head of the City’s internal audit committee, Petrus Mahlaba.

Candidate 3: Max Moyo

Max Moyo currently serves as the municipal manager for the Mooi Mpofana Municipality.

In 2014, the municipality was placed under administration and Moyo worked with administrator Buhle Ali to save the council.
Moyo also served as the uMgungundlovu District municipal manager in the early 2000s.

In 2006 Moyo instituted investigations into alleged unauthorised expenditure by the district municipality that found him dismissed from council for a week. After seeking a court order, Moyo was granted consent to return to his office, but a year later, he chose to leave the municipality once his contract came to an end.

He worked in Msunduzi Municipality before moving to uMgungundlovu District Municipality.

In previous reports he was hailed for fighting decisions by political authorities at the municipality that he felt were dubious, risking his job and his life.

In 2009 Moyo, dubbed “Mr Clean” by the KwaZulu-Natal media, was appointed municipal manager of the troubled Alfred Nzo District Municipality in Mount Ayliff in Eastern Cape.

MEC calls for action as contracts expire

In a meeting with all the mayors of the province’s 54 municipalities in Kokstad last week, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube-Ncube said she wanted all expiring contracts of municipal managers and other senior managers to be filled with immediate effect.

“We have a problem that most of the municipal managers’ contracts have expired and municipalities should have put plans in place to ensure a smooth transition.

“We now have a situation where we have a lot of acting managers at a critical point when we have to prepare annual financial statements. If these posts are not filled this will impact negatively on service delivery,” said Dube-Ncube.

“We must fill these positions timeously to ensure stability at the top level of management. When there is instability at the top, it affects performance. These delays in filling of posts have negative effect in the functioning of municipalities and may cost us clean audits.”

Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said acting municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe started on a contract but has now officially been seconded to Msunduzi until the permanent position is filled. “We understand that at this point Msunduzi has embarked on filling the post permanently, but we have arranged a meeting where the municipality will brief the MEC on a number of key areas within Msunduzi,” Mabaso said.

ANC must choose carefully — opposition

Opposition parties have called for the ANC leadership to “be extra cautious” when appointing a city manager “as this council has been through many hardships”.

IFP councillor Dolo Zondi said the ruling party needed to know that the position had “nothing to do with politics”.

“The ruling party needs to find a suitable candidate and not place a deployee. They must consider the hardships that we went through when we were placed under administration and until recently,” Zondi said.

Deputy provincial leader for the DA Mergan Chetty said they believed the municipality should be placed under administration before considering a new applicant for the position.

Chetty said that having an independent administrator would best serve the need to revive the “failing municipality and restore confidence among ratepayers”.

“The council should firstly be placed under administration as the rot in this council starts from the top,” he said.

Chetty said the party did not believe that acting municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe should be in the running “as his initial appointment came under a cloud and proved to be true because we are currently experiencing a service delivery crisis under his watch”.

He also said that to date, Hadebe’s credentials have not been cleared.

“It is evident that he is incapable of handling the affairs of an aspirant metro municipality,” he said.

Chetty said that there were rumours that the council’s front-runner in the race for the municipal manager’s position was Dr Ray Ngcobo.

“That will just be a recipe for disaster. The allegations in the Audit Committee’s report fingered him in the alleged crisis the council is undergoing due to mismanagement. Dr Ray Ngcobo is a law unto himself in this council,” Chetty said. — Witness Reporter.
Power outages ‘ruling party’s Fault’

Msunduzi residents found themselves in the dark recently with ongoing power outages.

The electricity outages, that began more than two weeks ago and which the municipality had blamed on striking council workers suspected of sabotaging electricity infrastructure, left residents in several parts of the city, including Hilton and Sweet­waters, in distress.

In some instances, Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo said, the striking workers had ripped off power cables, burnt electricity powers and petrol-bombed substations.

As reported previously, provincial DA deputy leader Mergan Chetty said the blame for the current collapse at Msunduzi should be laid “squarely at the feet of the factional in-fighting within the ANC”.

Chetty said they expected the collapse as immediately after presenting the budget, chief financial officer Nelisiwe Ngcobo and the general managers for infrastructure and community services, Sabatha Nomnganga and Boniwe Zulu, were placed under suspension.

Last week, Ngcobo and Zulu were reinstated while Nomnganga remained under suspension pending a disciplinary hearing.

The trio were served with letters early last month relating to their suspensions and faced allegations of mismanagement and gross negligence of funds.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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