City posts ‘delayed by troika’

2017-11-23 17:09
Acting City manager Sizwe Hadebe.

Acting City manager Sizwe Hadebe. (File)

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Why was the appointment of hundreds of priority posts at Msunduzi delayed for months at the insistence of the acting city manager?

As the City buckles under a flood of unresolved service delivery complaints, a handover report to Msunduzi’s strategic management committee (SMC) has revealed how the process to employ people for 409 priority posts was allegedly delayed by the municipality’s troika — the mayor Themba Njilo, acting municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe and chief whip Truman Magubane — for months on end.

The report said the three had “protracted consultations” about a report on the posts over a period of seven months, at the insistence of Hadebe. It described these as “unnecessary, prolonged engagement” and “inconclusive”.

But the City has since hit back, denying the troika played any role in the hiring of staff.

Submitted by staff officer Xolile Hulane, former general manager of corporate services Mosa Molapo and senior manager for human resources management Faith Ndlovu, the report also carries a veiled protest against the political interference in the appointment of people to priority posts — a task which should be an administrative function.

The document also refers to the fact that the human resources function has been taken over by the acting City manager’s office — a decision of the council on September 27.

According to the report at the time of its writing on October 31, 205 out of the 409 priority posts had eventually been short-listed and interviews were in the process of being scheduled; they want all advertised posts to be finalised by the end of the year.

Molapo says in the report that R45 million was approved for advertising all the priority posts.

However, she said that from the time of the SMC resolution to advertise the posts on August 23, 2016, to the date of the first bulk advert on March 20, seven months later, the advertising of the posts was delayed because of “protracted consultations with the troika on the report from the corporate services requesting the filling of priority posts, at the instruction of the acting City manager”.

The report goes on to say: “Six inconclusive meetings were held with the troika before corporate services took the initiative to advertise, noting that the end of the 2016/2017 financial year was imminent and there were escalating outcries about high vacancy rates.”

These meetings were held on September 20 and 29, October 2, December 14, January 23 and March 7.

During the meeting on October 2, the troika gave special permission for the human settlements posts to be advertised externally because the City’s housing accreditation status “was in jeopardy”. Following the last meeting in March, Molapo decided finally to act on the August resolution to publish the adverts for the sustainable development and city enterprises unit, the central business unit, corporate services and finance.

Adverts for community services and infrastructure services followed on April 11 and 28, respectively.

“The decision by [Molapo] finally to publish adverts on March 20 was informed by immense pressure and growing complaints from various political and administrative stakeholders in the municipality regarding high vacancy rates,” the report goes on to say.

“It … remains the view of [Molapo] that recruitment is a fundamentally administrative process. Therefore it ought not to have been subjected to a protracted consultation outside an administrative platform.”

Hinting at tensions, the report adds that “it is unjustifiable that the delays in the filling of the 2016/2017 advertised posts are falsely and solely ascribed to administrative failure on the part of corporate services and HR, instead of acknowledgment that delays were caused by the unnecessary, prolonged engagement with the troika at the insistence of the accounting officer”.

Asked to comment, Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said according to the Systems Act, the human resources function, including the recruitment of staff, is an administrative function and one of the responsibilities of the municipal manager.

“The municipal manager is empowered to delegate different aspects of this function to whichever manager(s) he may deem appropriate from time to time. To obviate the delays that were experienced in the filling of vacancies and to ensure that immediate and effective solution is found a council decision was given to incorporate the human resources function into the central business unit.

“As the human resources function is the responsibility of the municipal manager as indicated above, various managers from all business units have delegated authority to make certain decisions and carry out certain functions relating to human resources management. The troika plays no role in the human resources function.

“Following the incorporation of the human resources function into the central business unit, improvements have been made which led to the speedy carrying out of the recruitment function which includes the streamlining of the recruitment process and regular reporting thereon.

“To further address the issue of high vacancy rates in the municipality, funding has been allocated to different business units in order to enable them to fill in the critical vacancies which will make immediate impact on service delivery.”

Also read: Hadebe poised to be permanent City manager

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said it was very critical that the roughly 2 000 vacant posts at Msunduzi were filled. “The money is there. But it is not up to the chief whip. Magubane is a politician.” He said the vacancies had a huge impact on the services the City provided. “Look, there are no traffic officers around even.”

On the takeover of the human resource function by the office of the acting City manager, Majola said: “It’s not only HR. He has taken over the IRBTN and the waste management section. I would understand if his office was functioning well. Look how many outstanding disciplinary hearings there are.

“It’s long overdue that a new municipal manager was hired. What’s so special about his office? Are there better experts there? We call it portfolio capture. What are the political intentions? We all know employment is a tool for the ruling party. Instead, Hadebe should make sure that the managers of these departments are accountable, rather than remove whole departments from them.”

In July, The Witness reported that despite approving its organisational structure in 2013, the City was nowhere near filling all the posts.

In 2013, when the organisational structure was approved, the vacancy rate stood at 46%.

According to a Statistics SA report, the figure in June had gone up to 53%, with an astonishing total of 5 204 funded posts remaining unfilled.

The report, titled “Municipalities: where are the staff vacancies?”, listed Msunduzi as the municipality with the second-highest vacancy rate after Emfuleni Municipality in Gauteng.

When the organisational structure was approved in 2013, the vacancy rate at the infrastructure business unit was at 39,16%.The Witnessrecently reported that the vacancy rate at this business unit is at 68,13%.

The high vacancy rate has been blamed for the prolonged power outages suffered by Msunduzi residents.

In September, SA Municipal Workers Union regional secretary Sbu Molefe said municipal employees were finding it difficult to cope with work due to staffing problems.

“The situation is further exacerbated by numerous indefinite suspensions. If you do not have enough employees, then you cannot afford to have workers on suspension for over a year.”

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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