Mayor blames manager

2010-03-04 00:00

MSUNDUZI Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo has laid the blame for the unhappiness over unpaid overtime, which led to the ongoing strike, on municipal manager Rob Haswell.

Addressing workers at the Harry Gwala Stadium yesterday morning before they marched to the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature to hand over a memorandum calling for the dissolution of the executive committee (Exco), Hlatshwayo said Haswell has failed as an accounting officer.

The mayor said Exco voted to scale down overtime as per the Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment acts, but Haswell failed to communicate the resolutions to employees.

She said Haswell did not inform the staff they were no longer allowed to work more than 40 hours’ overtime a month. She also said tenders not budgeted for were passed by management without Exco’s agreement.

Exco member Themba Zungu (ANC) said there is evidence that many decisions taken by Exco and full council were not implemented by Haswell and his management team.

Hlatshwayo said there is a belief that some managers and supervisors benefited from the overtime money paid to workers. She said some workers have said they gave a share of their overtime to supervisors, who otherwise would not have authorised it.

Hlatshwayo said the crisis in the municipality is the result of financial mismanagement and lack of debt collection by senior managers. These managers report to Haswell as administration head.

Both Hlatshwayo and Zungu said that when­ever Haswell is called to account, he goes on leave and that this time he is hiding behind sick leave.

“I am not saying that he is not sick because I am not a doctor, but when he has to account, he takes leave. This is very irresponsible of a mana­ger and his leave seems to be well timed,” said Hlatshwayo. She said Haswell has disappeared in the past when it was time for financial quarterly reviews.

Zungu said: “You cannot run away when the hard times hit and hide behind sick leave for two months.”

Hlatshwayo said Exco will today discuss Haswell’s sick leave and whether he has exhaus­ted his leave days.

Acting municipal manager Kevin Perumal said the task team has made R4,5 million available to cover overtime of R1,5 million for January and R3 million for February.

Speaking on Gagasi99.5 FM yesterday evening, Hlatshwayo said the council was told during quarterly reviews that the city’s finances were in order. However, it has since established that it was misled because management borrowed money from banks to “fill the gaps” created by poor financial management.

Municipal worker Boyzie Molefe told Hlatshwayo during her address that Exco has failed, and that blaming Haswell when he is not present to defend himself will not stop the workers from calling for Exco’s dissolution.

“We will march [now] to the legislature to say ‘go mayor, go Exco’,” said Molefe.

City streets were gridlocked at mid-morning when workers made their way to the legislature.

Meanwhile, Hlatshwayo yesterday headed a clean-up, with councillors and officials, of uncollec­ted rubbish.

KZN speaker Peggy Nkonyeni accepted the marchers’ memorandum. SA Municipal Workers’ Union provincial chairman John Dlamini said they demand the invoking of Section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution, which provides for a municipality to be put under administration because of a financial crisis.

He said the mayor had assured workers on February 19 they would be paid as usual for that month.

Dlamini said the workers will not return to work until they receive a response to their grievances.

Nkonyeni said the grievances will be dealt with by the Co-operative Governance portfolio committee.

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