Durban municipal employee back in the firing line over cancelled conference

2017-11-06 18:58
eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. (Netwerk24)

eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. (Netwerk24)

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Durban - An eThekwini Municipality official who says he is "the fall guy" for the embarrassing same-day cancellation of a R2.1m social cohesion conference earlier this year, is again facing internal disciplinary charges.

Head of parks, recreation and culture, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, was suspended a few weeks after the fiasco but when he brought an urgent application in Durban's Labour Court - in which he claimed that the instruction to cancel the event had come from Mayor Zandile Gumede via the municipal manager Sipho Nzuza - the city backed off, dropping the charges and reinstating him.

But his attorney, Reg Thomas, confirmed on Monday that he was back in the firing line and the inquiry would be held this Friday.

The event was to be attended by about 500 people, with IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi as one of the guest speakers. It was cancelled on Monday morning as seated delegates waited patiently for the event to begin.

In his affidavit in the Labour Court matter, Ngcobo claimed he had been caught up in a "power struggle".

He said four days before the conference he had received an SMS message from Nzuza, suggesting the conference be "withdrawn for a further date".

At a meeting over the weekend he had challenged this, pointing that 500 people had been invited and the city had incurred large costs for flight and accommodation. He said Nzuza told him the mayor was insistent that the conference be cancelled.

He only received this in writing at 10:30 on Monday, some hours after the conference was to begin.

Thomas said his client was facing the same charges as before: that he had placed the municipality into disrepute resulting in wasteful expenditure because he had disregarded an instruction by the city manager to cancel the event on June 15.

Neither Nzuza nor Gumede have responded to Ngcobo's allegations, although at the time city spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa confirmed that Ngcobo was back at his desk.

When Ngcobo's suspension was lifted, Thomas was told an inquiry into the matter had been finalised and that he assumed from this that his client had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

He said on Monday, however, neither he nor his client had ever received a copy of the report.

Read more on:    ethekwini municipality  |  zandile gumede  |  durban

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