City ‘warned over Hadebe’

2019-09-04 17:33

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The beleaguered Msunduzi Municipality has once again come under the spotlight, this time with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) focusing on the municipality.

Severe mismanagement, financial collapse and lack of service delivery were on top of the agenda as various stakeholders, including councillors and the business fraternity, highlighted the city’s crisis.

on Tuesday, members of the NCOP’s select committee on co-operative governance who visited the municipality were told that the appointment of the embattled suspended municipal manager Sizwe Hadebe in 2016 had culminated in the disaster the people, investors and visitors of the City of Choice are subjected to.

China Dodovu, chairperson of the select committee on Cogta, Water and Sanitation, and Human Settlements, said the NCOP was concerned about the ailing Msunduzi.

“The people of this city deserve better,” Dodovu said. “They [residents] deserve good governance and service delivery. Nobody, especially public representatives, must do something that is contrary to their expectations.”

Dodovu said those who deviated and caused Msunduzi to collapse should be held accountable. “This city used to be very clean. Durban has progressed and this city is not developing in the pace that it’s supposed to. After 25 years you’d rather choose to fight among yourselves, you’d rather loot with no consequences and not afford our people basic necessities like water,” he said.

He said while other formerly small cities like Bloemfontein and East London had graduated to metros, Msunduzi lagged behind.

“Why not Pietermaritzburg? What advantages are you taking economically? Why can’t you place the city forward against everything so that the generations to come have a heritage? The ongoing battles are unnecessary.”

The visit by the NCOP follows the provincial government’s decision to invoke Section 139 of the Constitution amid the reported collapse of governance and service delivery in April.

At the time of intervention, the ANC-led municipal council had been embroiled in infighting, with unlawful council decisions allegedly taken.

Hadebe, who is still on suspension, is currently subject to numerous allegations of misconduct, including contravening the Municipal Systems Act, giving unlawful instructions to his subordinates as well as interfering with the management and administration of some of the City’s business units.

During the visit, the NCOP heard that Hadebe’s appointment was made despite resistance from opposition parties who were dissatisfied with his performance when he was acting on secondment from the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department (Cogta) following former municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi’s suspension.

Sibongiseni Majola, DA caucus leader, said the situation in Msunduzi could have been avoided had Hadebe’s appointment been revoked.

“The situation we are in was caused by the driver [Hadebe]. After a series of communications with the former MEC of Cogta with regards to dealing with the irregular nature of the appointment of the municipal manager, we didn’t receive any feedback,” Majola said.

Majola said despite Hadebe’s “overwhelming history”, his appointment was never scrutinised by the provincial Cogta. “We told the MEC that Hadebe’s appointment did not bring any assurance to the residents. It is painful when it comes to situations like this and we are forced to say, ‘We told you so’,” he added.

The IFP’s Thinasonke Ntombela reiterated Majola’s statement and accused Cogta of failing to act timeously to intervene in Msunduzi.

“We [the opposition] have long ago requested the provincial Cogta’s intervention. We requested the intervention from Cogta when we received the auditor-general’s opinion in 2016/17,” he said.

Ntombela said while the party welcomed the intervention, placing the City under administration had been followed by confusion for councillors.

“When the intervention was introduced in April, the administrator wasn’t even here to be introduced. We thought this was supposed to happen simultaneously. That showed that the City was placed under administration without proper planning.”

He pointed out that until now, administrator Sibusiso Sithole’s ministerial intervention team had not been appointed.

The ACDP’s Rienus Niemand also laid the blame on Cogta. “Two years ago, we took all the documentation with 90% of these issues and delivered them personally to Cogta, the public protector and Salga,” he said.

New ANC chief whip Vusi Ntshangase said the party welcomed the intervention by Cogta.

“The local government intervened in order to awaken a sleeping giant. We are happy with the decision to revive the glorious city to its former glory,” Ntshangase said.

Msunduzi failed local businesses- PCB Head

PMB Chamber of Business chief executive Melanie Veness said the livelihood of businesses in the city had been compromised by Msunduzi’s failure to provide basic services.

Veness said the City’s incompetence had led to several businesses closing down, resulting in retrenchments. “I have watched with despair numerous businesses in the city close down and all their workers going home. I have also watched investors leaving Pietermaritzburg in frustration and developers not being able to develop what they need to,” she said.

Veness said the business fraternity had also “fought hard” against the employment of Hadebe.

“It’s heartbreaking for us to find ourselves under administration for the second time in 10 years. I’m afraid to say that it wouldn’t have taken any crystal ball to see that we would end up here again.” 

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