Mayor insists suspended Mpanza was properly appointed to post

2008-01-03 00:00

MSUNDUZI Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo’s excitement at the election of her favoured candidate for president of the ANC at the Polokwane conference was short-lived when she returned to the dilemma of having two municipal managers.

At a press briefing yesterday, Hlatshwayo clarified what she termed a “storm in a teacup”, insisting that Skhumbuzo Mpanza is the acting municipal manager while Rob Haswell is on leave.

The storm Hlatshwayo referred to arose from a special full council resolution taken in her absence to suspend Mpanza, who was appointed by Haswell in consultation with the mayor, and appoint strategic executive manager for community services and social equity Zwe Hulane in his place last month.

Mpanza was suspended indefinitely for actions tantamount to insubordination and stripped of the acting post pending an investigation after he instructed council support staff not to attend the meeting because he had not been consulted.

The mayor said Mpanza has a proper letter of appointment and remains the acting manager.

She added that she is not convinced the proper procedures were followed in holding the special council meeting.

Hlatshwayo said the council should have spoken to Mpanza before suspending him and informed Haswell.

She said she should have been informed of the special meeting, if it was so urgent.

She added that Hulane did not inform her, as his supervisor, of his appointment.

The mayor apologised to the public for any misunderstandings that may have arisen and said plans will be discussed with Haswell to ensure that such confusion does not occur again.

Council disputed Mpanza’s appointment, as an ANC caucus had resolved that Hulane be appointed.

Council speaker Alpha Shelembe is adamant that Mpanza should be suspended because the decision to appoint him was taken by the mayor and Haswell, without the input of a third executive council member, as per a full council resolution taken in 2003.

“The mayor is not doing Mpanza any favours by keeping him on as the acting manager. He should be suspended for his behaviour. Her actions only makes a stronger case for council to dismiss him with immediate effect,” said Shelembe.

When contacted by The Witness, Hulane said he was unaware of the press briefing and maintained that Mpanza remains suspended.

DA councillor Bill Lambert said the whole situation is “absolutely bizarre”.

“It is high time that the ANC resolves its absurd differences so that local government can take its course.”

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