Slur on city officials

2012-07-11 00:00

TEMPERS flared at a community meeting in Northdale on Monday night when Ashin Singh, a city magistrate, labelled top municipal officials present as “affirmative action” appointees.

The officials included Msunduzi’s acting municipal manager, Thokozani Maseko, and members of his team.

But some residents were unimpressed by what they perceived as a slur and jumped to the officials’ defence.

Among them was Anash Mangalparsad, who stood up on a point of order and said there was no place in the new democratic order for sweeping statements.

“I felt I had to defend the acting municipal manager from being attacked. We can’t just assume that he and the officials lack qualifications and experience.”

Mangalparsad also took Democratic Alliance ward councillor Jay Singh to task for not having done more to protect the officials.

Replying to Ashin Singh during the question-and-answer session, Maseko denied he had been an affirmative action appointee.

He had attended the best schools and tertiary institutions. He loved the city and was committed to its upliftment.

Maseko urged those present to become involved in municipal processes by attending council meetings and participating in public consultative processes to keep both councillors and officials accountable.

The Witness he was present when Maseko was interviewed for the job of deputy municipal manager and that the appointment was made on merit.

Ashin Singh, who is the convenor of the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem), yesterday stood by his comments at the public meeting.

“I was speaking in the context of the collapse of the municipality and the fact that two administrators later and seven months after the municipality was given a clean bill of health there is still no service delivery.”

Singh said he had later explained this to Maseko.

“There is a lack of competence on the part of the staff entrusted with fixing the city. I told him I was fed up,” Singh said.

He had grown angry at “yet more promises from the officials”.

“They gave us more undertakings that rubbish would be removed, streets cleaned, street lights fixed, potholes will be fixed.

“Yet it became clear that they still do not have systems and routine maintenance plans in place to tackle the work.”

The government’s planning commission and forensic investigations and Auditor-General reports blamed the collapse in local government and lack of service delivery on incompetent staff who were not qualified to do their jobs.

Singh said members of the Ezinkethini informal settlement present had congratulated him for the points he raised.

They had been waiting for 20 years for basic services, and had since requested help from Samrem in taking their case to court.

“Only competent, efficient and patriotic South Africans of all races should be employed as envisaged by former President Nelson Mandela,” said Singh.

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