Suspended eThekwini municipal managers get millions

2013-11-18 00:00

SALARIES paid to suspended eThek­wini Municipality managers has cost taxpayers million of rands.

For the past three years, Megan Naidoo and Devan Govender were paid about R3 million in salaries while under suspension.

These managers in the housing unit were employed by the city with an annual salary of R500 000 plus benefits. Both were suspended by the former city manager Mike Sutcliffe in 2009 after being accused of manipulating tender processes to channel multimillion-rand contracts to favoured companies owned by housing department staff members. The tenders were to supply paint to renovate council flats.

The city fired Naidoo and Govender only in February this year, but they had since appealed. In October, the Audit and Risk Committee expressed concern that it had taken the city three years to finalise the disciplinary hearing against the two.

Municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng dismissed the concerns of the municipal committee report. He said Naidoo and Govender were not suspended for three years as claimed. “The two managers were re-assigned from their substantive duties to other duties during the inquiry. The disciplinary inquiry involved legal counsel and was extremely complex. During the process the employees lodged a series of applications in the high court,” he said.

Mofokeng said municipal employees are entitled by law and by collective agreement to appeal against any disciplinary sanction imposed by the employer. “The council is committed to reducing both the number of disciplinary cases and the length of time taken to reach finality through pro-active measures such as educating the workforce, correcting errant behaviour and regular monitoring of all disciplinary cases.”

DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango said the credibility of the city’s legal department was questionable. “The labour act prescribes that an employee can only be suspended for three months. Within that period the disciplinary hearing should be conducted,” said Mncwango.

Mncwango said the city was going to lose the appeal because its legal department did not advise them properly.

Independent Municipal Allied Trade Union president Stanley Khoza said the union was not aware about the issue.

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