City of Cape Town saga - ‘Unfounded’ misconduct claims against acting City manager

2018-02-05 18:14
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Cape Town - The acting City manager of Cape Town, Lungelo Mbandazayo, is now also on the list of officials accused of misconduct, with a former staffer alleging that a personal agenda influenced some of his decisions regarding the approval of internal bursaries.

However, the City council has resolved that the matter be dismissed and that no further investigation into it is necessary.

The allegations against Mbandazayo were made by a former City employee, who himself previously faced misconduct claims relating to bursaries. This employee resigned in 2017.

A previously confidential report on the allegations against Mbandazayo was last week uploaded onto the City's official website.

Mbandazayo, the City's executive director of corporate services, was appointed acting City manager after Achmat Ebrahim, who previously filled the position in a permanent capacity, suddenly resigned in January.

READ: City of Cape Town manager resigns in midst of De Lille fallout

Ebrahim's resignation came as serious claims and counterclaims were being made against top City officials in a fallout, which has resulted in the DA tabling a motion of no confidence against Mayor Patricia de Lille.

This is set to be debated on February 15.

Among the allegations which De Lille faces, which are contained in an independent report, are that she may be guilty of gross misconduct for allegedly advising Ebrahim that he need not report to the City council an allegation of misconduct against Melissa Whitehead, the commissioner of the transport and urban development authority, relating to alleged irregularities involving payments for bus chassis.

Whitehead was placed on precautionary suspension in January.

'Possible detriment to Cape Town's stability'

The council, when considering whether Mbandazayo should be placed on precautionary suspension, had looked into factors including whether it would be "detrimental to stability in the municipality".

It was found that Mbandazayo's potential precautionary suspension would be detrimental to the City's stability and its leadership, especially as a result of Ebrahim's resignation.

"It is therefore imperative stability be ensured amidst service delivery and the water crisis," the report said.

Former City employee faced disciplinary action

The matter against Mbandazayo involved an email containing complaints against him from a former City employee, Eugene Kotze, who faced misconduct charges in a related matter.

Kotze, according to the City report, was the subject of an April 2017 disciplinary meeting.

He was accused of misconduct and gross negligence in that he allegedly approved an internal bursary application without the approval of the delegated authority.

Kotze resigned from the City due to health reasons. This came into effect on May 31, 2017.

ANC councillor Bheki Hadebe submitted Kotze's complaints to the City speaker's office and had requested the misconduct allegation be brought to the Council's attention.

Bursaries

The City report said Mbandazayo had the authority to approve bursaries for staff members doing postgraduate studies.

In January 2017, he had approved a spreadsheet for applications for the corporate services directorate.

But two weeks later, he did not approve a spreadsheet of applicants from utility services, this despite these applicants being in more strategic positions than those in the corporate services directorate.

Kotze alleged his decision to not approve the second batch of applicants was "weak".

'Personal agenda' allegation

His allegation, contained in the City's report, said: "The question needs to be asked - why the sudden change in thinking - or was there another personal agenda to 'punish' somebody or to possibly enhance others without any consideration of consistency in his decision making?"

However, the City council report found that what transpired did not constitute misconduct.

"It is clear that Mr Kotze is trying to justify his fraudulent action through this complaint," the City's report said.

There was a second allegation that late in 2017, the same day that Ebrahim instructed that all bursaries be put on hold due to De Lille's "concern regarding inconsistent processes", Mbandazayo approved an MBA application for a director. This was at a cost to the City of R239 000 over 30 months.

This allegation said the bursary approval left one questioning whether it was signed off just before Ebrahim placed a moratorium on bursaries.

The City report found at the time this bursary was approved, no moratorium was in effect. 

'Impeccable record'

It said Mbandazayo provided a comprehensive response about the matter.

There was no evidence, the report found, backing up what Kotze alleged.

In reasons about a possible precautionary suspension, it said Mbandazayo had an "impeccable record" relating to his time at the City, which was more than a decade.

The report said that the misconduct allegations were denied.

New City manager appointment process 

According to another City document published on its website, the process to appoint a permanent City manager may wrap up towards the end of March.

The job was to be advertised this month, with panel interviews taking place in March.

According to the document, the selection panel would be chaired by the mayor and consist of up to 3 councillors and an external specialist.

The mayor, in consultation with the panel, would finalise a shortlist and would be authorised to finalise the employment contract.

Read more on:    city of cape town  |  cape town  |  politics

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