Suspension saga spiralling

2007-12-21 00:00

There still seems to be more than one acting municipal manager in Rob Haswell’s absence at Msunduzi Municipality, if letters sent out yesterday are anything to go by.

The debacle took another turn yesterday when Skhumbuzo Mpanza, who had already been suspended following an order of the full council on Wednesday, defied his suspension and promptly suspended the legitimate acting municipal manager, Zwe Hulane, who yesterday sent out a letter confirming council’s decision to suspend Mpanza.

Hulane said yesterday that Mpanza was told to leave council property yesterday morning and it is a mystery how his letter, on a council letterhead, was produced.

He added that Mpanza does not have the authority to suspend him (Hulane) as he is a section 57 employee, and a council resolution would be needed to implement that.

“Also how can you suspend someone if you are already suspended yourself?”

Mpanza’s letter reads that Hulane, the strategic executive manager (SEM) for community services and social equity, “has been suspended with immediate effect” and that “he is not allowed to communicate with council employees and to enter council premises”.

But Hulane wryly said he would be at work this morning as usual.

Approached for comment, Bill Lambert, caucus leader of the DA, said the situation is spiralling out of control.

“The whole thing is bizarre. The position is that there was a special full council meeting called by the speaker, which was totally quorate, and this resulted in a unanimous decision by all parties appointing Hulane as the acting municipal manager. So the legitimate acting municipal manager is Zwe Hulane.

“This is without precedent in the history of Pietermaritzburg and will bring our city into disrepute. The final responsibility of this unseemly situation rests with the ANC and they must resolve this issue forthwith,” he said.

Council speaker Alpha Shelembe said yesterday afternoon that he had just learnt about the existence of the two letters of suspension, but that these are immaterial.

“Whether these two letters purporting to suspend each other are there or not, fact remains, Mpanza cannot expel a staff member senior to him, to do that you need a council resolution. I can only say this is the desperation of someone in trouble,” he said.

Shelembe said it should be put on record that Hulane did not suspend Mpanza, but that he, Hulane, was merely implementing a council resolution by informing Mpanza of his suspension.

Shelembe said this was communicated with his office. “I must also clarify that the special meeting [convened on Tuesday] was not about suspending anyone,” he said.

IFP caucus leader in the municipality Dolo Zondi was not available for comment yesterday, but he told The Witness on Wednesday that Mpanza could have registered his concerns with the proper authorities. He regretted Mpanza’s attitude and sheer disregard of a council resolution.

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