Mettler’s axe falls on Bridgmohan

2010-05-03 00:00

MSUNDUZI chief financial officer Roy Bridgmohan has been officially suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry and is facing charges relating to his duties at the municipality.

This was confirmed by tough-talking administrator Johann Mettler yesterday.

Mettler said he is unable to elaborate on the nature of the charges as Bridgmohan has not yet pleaded to them.

“It would be unfair to give further details at this stage.”

He confirmed that while investigations are taking place, more charges could be added to those Bridgmohan already faces. “We need to get our ducks in a row.”

Asked how many charges Bridgmohan must answer to, Mettler replied that he faces “multiple” charges.

He said he wants to get the disciplinary inquiry over with as soon as possible.

The Witness wrote recently that Bridgmohan is expected to answer for:

• His inability to manage cash flow processes and implications

• Poor budget management and overspending of the current budget

• No procedures and controls on operating and capital expenditure requests

• Poor debt management

• A poor credit control policy, which is readily open to fraud.

Attempts to contact Bridgmohan for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.

While he is on full suspension, his colleagues — acting municipal manager Kevin Perumal, procurement manager Francis Grantham and deputy municipal manager for community services Zwe Hulane — are on special leave until tomorrow.

When they return, they will have to give reasons why they should not be suspended, said Mettler.

Meanwhile, senior Msunduzi traffic cop Kenneth Chetty has also been placed on special leave for seven days to consider his response to correspondence sent to him by Mettler.

Mettler confirmed this too yesterday, saying he cannot comment further. “I have to be cagey because this is special leave. If he were suspended, I could comment further.” Efforts to contact Chetty yesterday were unsuccessful.

When asked if Msunduzi is corresponding with former city manager Rob Haswell, Mettler said there is “no relationship of any sort” between Haswell and the municipality. He said Haswell has cleared his desk and none of his personal effects remain at the municipality.

Msunduzi faces severe financial problems, including a cash-flow crisis, a reduction of about 50% in rate collections for March and April and a projected deficit that continues to increase monthly.

Commenting on the suspension of Bridgmohan, the Democratic Alliance’s Bill Lambert said it had been coming for a long time.

“Any suggestion of impropriety among the management should result in disciplinary action and the law should take its course,” he said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Dolo Zondi said his party had been critical of the ANC’s policy of deploying people to do party political work rather than what their jobs required, and that the party welcomes investigations into all senior managers.

“The fact that the city is where it is today is as a result of the ANC’s policy on deployment. People, from the municipal manager to the street sweeper, need to be appointed on merit, not on their party affiliations.

“We even have people wearing ANC T-shirts to work,” said Zondi.

“This must stop. The ruling party needs to wake up,” he added.

MSUNDUZI administrator Johann Mettler told The Witness yesterday that his major concerns at the moment are fleet management and waste collection.

He said he will be visiting the waste collection depot this week to inspect it formally and get it galvanised to clean up the city.

Mettler commented that the “whole of South Africa” is cleaner than the city of Pietermaritzburg at present.

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