Msunduzi bosses spend R55?000 on retreat

2010-08-09 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality spent R55 000 on an executive retreat two weeks ago.

The disclosure comes as the municipality faces severe financial problems that have resulted in workers being told their yearly increases and bonuses have been postponed and in the likelihood that it will be bankrupt come December.

The Witness has learnt that the intervention team and executive managers went on a strategic planning retreat from July 22 to 24 at a lodge in the Underberg area.

Questions have been raised as to why the mayor, his deputy and the council speaker accompanied the executives on the last two days of the three-day trip when its main purpose was to deal with municipal issues on an administrative level.

It appears that no opposition party politicians were present.

There has been much grumbling about the trip. Insiders question whether it was necessary for the strategic planning exercise to take place at a lodge when the council chamber or Harry Gwala boardroom could have been used at no cost.

News of the getaway comes at a time when the municipality should be tightening its purse strings. KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and Finance MEC Ina Cronje made it clear last week that there will be no financial bail-out for Msunduzi.

Msunduzi administrator Johann Mettler said people need to put the trip into context.

He said that after the budget was adopted, the mayor had 28 days to table the municipality’s service delivery and budget implementation plans (SDBIPs) so it became important to devise a plan.

“It was important to take the interim team out of the work environment [literally out of cell- phone reach] so that we could focus and devise our key performance areas, key performance indicators, and draft micro structures so that we could build those into our SDBIPs,” said Mettler.

He said that having the session was “of critical importance” because the SDBIPs have to be adopted by August 11.

He said the mayor, his deputy and the council speaker were invited to go on the trip so that they could be given feedback about the work done during the retreat.

They took part in discussions on Friday, July 23, so that they could better understand the indicators and how they could be used should the administration need to account.

“Full feedback to the politicians happened on Saturday morning. The municipality footed the food and accommodation bill of just below R55 000,” said Mettler.

He said that although the management team is working in an acting capacity, it still sees the importance of starting to build a team to benefit the municipality.

“...that we took them out of their familiar setting contributed to building a positive spirit ... this would not have been possible if we had a work session within the council chamber.”

Mettler added that the intervention team wants to leave in place not only “a fully functional municipality, but also a core of a management team that have a shared commitment towards the welfare of Msunduzi”.

We won’t run out of money,says Mettler

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