City finally rid of Hadebe with a three-month salary settlement

2019-09-06 15:00
Suspended City boss Sizwe Hadebe.

Suspended City boss Sizwe Hadebe. (Ian Carbutt)

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The City is finally set to rid itself of its embattled boss, Sizwe Hadebe.

Council this week agreed on a three-month salary settlement on his resignation with immediate effect.

According to a report by administrator Sibusiso Sithole, the proposal for the settlement had already been discussed and agreed on with Hadebe, who still had more than three years left on his contract as a municipal manager.

“In arriving at this settlement, the main motivation is to resolve this matter as soon as possible to facilitate the restoration of stability in the municipality and to enable the municipality to start on a clean slate in recruiting a qualified, experienced and competent accounting officer,” he said.

Hadebe has been on suspension for more than a year pending disciplinary action on charges related to the contravention of tender and recruitment processes.

These included the buying of land for a cemetery, the price of which was allegedly inflated from less than R5 million to R23 million, and the appointment of former senior manager for assets and liabilities, Khanyisile Shoba.

Sithole said there had been a concerns that Hadebe’s disciplinary proceedings had taken too long so he approached him to “explore a pragmatic way forward” to bring the matter to finality.

Apparently Hadebe proposed a settlement of a salary for 12 months to end the impasse, but Sithole rejected this.

A three months’ package counter proposal was put to Hadebe on condition that all monies due to the municipality be deducted from the settlement but he would not agree to this.

The parties eventually agreed that monies due to the City be subjected to a separate settlement due to legal costs Hadebe incurred in the matter.

Hadebe’s prolonged suspension has had a debilitating effect on the management of Msunduzi Municipality and had a destabilising effect on the finance business unit, Sithole said in his report.

City can still charge Hadebe

Other implications Hadebe’s lengthy suspension had for Msunduzi included legal fees that were close to R1 million and additional costs for acting allowances paid to the chief financial officer, Neli Ngcobo, who has been holding the fort in Hadebe’s office, and supply chain management senior manager Dudu Ndlovu-Gambu, who has been acting as the head of finance.

Sithole said the settlement did not mean that the City’s case against Hadebe was weak or that the decision to charge him “was frivolous, irrational and motivated by irrelevant conversations”.

He said there was overwhelming public interest in ensuring that consequence management was carried out, therefore the settlement did not affect Msunduzi’s rights to recover money owed by Hadebe or to criminally charge him.

Sithole’s report also contained a legal opinion from Sanele ­Zondi, of Durban law firm Mdledle Incorporated, which said the settlement was in the best interests of the municipality as Hadebe’s disciplinary proceedings and potential future litigation could have dragged for years which would have been costly for the municipality.

“A further invaluable benefit to the municipality would be the reinstatement of stability in its administration,” said Zondi.

Seconded to Msunduzi by Cogta

Sizwe Hadebe joined Msunduzi in June 2016 when he was seconded by the provincial Department Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to act as the City head following the suspension of the then municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi.

At the time he already had a dark cloud hanging over his head since his resignation from Ekurhuleni Municipality in 2014. This came after his suspension following allegations emanating from a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into a contract for water meter installations by Lesira-Teq.

Hadebe was also the deputy chair of the National Water Advisory Council that advised the then Water Affairs minister Edna Molewa, and had been previously employed by the City of Johannesburg when Lesira-Teq scored a R170 million deal to install water meters there. He was officially appointed as City boss on a five-year contract in December 2017. — WR.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  sizwe hadebe

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