It’s a massive task that lies ahead, says city’s ‘nanny’

2010-03-23 00:00

“IT’S a massive task that lies ahead.”

Clearly a realist, newly appointed Msunduzi Municipality administrator Johann Mettler is under no illusions about the months to come.

Nicknamed “the nanny”, a pet name that causes him to chuckle bashfully, Mettler says it’s possible for the municipality to get out of the mess it finds itself in.

“It’s going to take absolute commitment from all parties involved, especially residents, councillors and staff,” he says.

Unsurprisingly, Mettler says he doesn’t get much sleep.

“During the week, my diary drives me. Weekends are the only time I have.”

An extremely busy man, Mettler admits that he finds it difficult to juggle his professional and personal life.

The father of 13-year-old Thandi and 11-year-old Temba says he tends to value weekends because they allow him to spend more time with his family.

As busy as the Western Cape native is, he tries his best to make sure he is there for his children as often as he can manage. He drives his children to school in the mornings and tries to get back home in time to tuck them into bed.

Married for 15 years, Mettler also chairs the governing body of the Wonder Boys’ Junior School and sits on the board of a Cape-based NGO that helps with the upliftment of the rural poor.

As strapping as he is, Mettler never pursued a career in rugby, having given up the sport after his tertiary education.

“Despite my size, I’m much more able in the boardroom,” he says.

Since his appointment, Mettler says, he has been busy gathering information that will enable him to take control of expenditure, manage cash flow, enhance revenue, apply aggressive credit control measures and tackle debt collection.

“Those are the main priorities. We’re putting processes in place to deal with those things so we can make informed decisions,” he says.

Last week, Mettler had the opportunity to meet with the former municipal political heads as well as the Imatu and Samwu municipal trade unions.

“They were fairly frank meetings … One of the issues that gave rise to the current situation had to do with political interference in the administration of the municipality. That came out clearly.”

Mettler says the municipality’s finances are in a state of disarray and all allegations of fraud and corruption — of which there are many — will be investigated shortly.

Focused on administration, Mettler says he has no comment to make about the political situation at the municipality.

Scheduled to meet with administrative heads sometime this week, Mettler says he also plans to address municipal staff at a general meeting so they can meet the team deployed by the province.

The meeting will inform them about the scope of the intervention and how the team plans to remedy the situation, and it will also serve to address rumours.

“It’s been a hectic first few days and I had to get on top of the situation immediately.

“It’s difficult to get in from the cold, but I‘ve got a very good team who know what to look out for,” he says.

Mettler, who has never been appointed a municipal administrator before, says the most important thing about any intervention is to have accurate information that is both truthful and credible in order for informed decisions to be made.

When he and his team leave, they have to be able to present an exit strategy to the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, that states how matters should be dealt with.

“We can only lay the foundation. We can’t be around until the municipality is on an absolutely even keel. That will take time,” he says.





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