Msunduzi:suspended four back

2011-06-27 00:00

SOME of the Msunduzi municipal managers who were suspended last year when the municipality was placed under administration have trickled back to work at various departments.

The municipality has sent some of them letters informing them that disciplinary inquiries that the council planned to insitute against them have, as of June 21, been handed over to a local law firm to deal with.

The Witness is in possession of one of the letters given to a suspended manager stating that the law firm will now be handling the disciplinary inquries and that the charge sheets of the suspended managers “will be amended if necessary and served” shortly.

The Witness has learnt that four managers have reported for duty since last week and have been shifted to various departments within the cash-strapped municipality.

The four are: Nondumiso Hlela, wife of Alpha Shelembe (who stepped down as deputy mayor last week), who was manager in the speaker’s office; Hazel Xolo, who was co-ordinator in the speaker’s office; Lulama Mbatha, who was process manager for skills development; and Priscilla Harris, who was personnel manager.

City Hall insiders who asked to remain unnamed for fear of being victimised, said Hlela has been shifted to area-based management. Xolo has apparently been moved to the real estate section, while Mbatha and Harris have apparently been shifted to parks and recreation and waste management respectively.

Hlela and Xolo were suspended in November, while Harris and Mbatha were suspended a few months before. However, the reasons for the suspension of the managers are yet to be divulged. The four have been drawing salaries from the council since they were suspended last year.

Senior managers who were also suspended last year — Zwe Hulane, Francis Grantham and Kevin Perumal — are still on suspension, and, according to sources, on full pay. Former Msunduzi chief executive officer (CEO) Roy Bridgmohan resigned in February from the municipality and former public safety manager Kenny Chetty was axed.

Asked to confirm whether the four managers are back at work and comment on progress on the suspensions of senior managers, Msunduzi administrator Sibusiso Sithole said he is “not in a position to comment on these matters at this stage”.

“I will only be able to do so after having reported progress on all disciplinary matters and forensic audit outcomes to the new executive committee [Exco] and full council, which will sit [on Wednesday] for their consideration. It is appropriate that I get this opportunity before making public statements in this regard,” said Sithole.

Asked whether the handing over the disciplinary inquiries to a law firm is considered outsourcing, Sithole said the Municipal Systems Act and the collective bargaining council agreements allow the municipal to use a variety of expertise to tackle inquiries on behalf the council.

The municipality can use other civil servants with expertise from, for example, the office of the premier and the co-operative governance department. Sithole said the municipality is also allowed to use local professionals when the need arises. He said the legal team within the council has been asked to recuse itself from the inquiries and that the municipality has an inherent lack of capacity to deal with such matters.

Acting municipal manager Thokozani Maseko said the magnitude of the cases has prompted the council to call on expertise from outside.

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