City manager Sizwe Hadebe might not have been at Wednesday’s full council meeting but his presence, as he survived a proposal to suspend him, loomed large in the room.The meeting began with the DA councillors proposing that Hadebe’s proposed suspension be discussed before other matters on the agenda because of its urgency. DA councillor Bill Lambert said the confidential item was of interest not just to the opposition, “but to this whole city”. The ANC said all the matters on the agenda are equally important to the residents of Msunduzi.However, Speaker Jabu Ngubo ruled that it would be deliberated with other confidential items at the end so that the media and members of the public were not inconvenienced by the delays. When the DA councillors later proposed that Hadebe be placed on precautionary suspension pending an investigation, they were supported by the IFP and the EFF. The ANC asked for two caucuses during the tense discussions as the DA pressured the leading party to take decisive action against Hadebe. After two hours the matter was eventually put to the vote but the DA, EFF and IFP lost to the ANC and ACDP, who were of the view that the City should get a legal opinion on the matter before instituting disciplinary action against Hadebe. Hadebe was on sick leave on Wednesday and the chief finance officer, Neli Ngcobo, stood in for him and presented his municipal manager’s monthly report, which the DA was clearly unimpressed with.“Over the past month we’ve had allegations and clips that have been spiralling around the communities and the media. We don’t see the legitimacy or authenticity of these two reports, including the reports of the previous months,” said the DA’s Ross Strachan.He said it is in the best interest of the City that reports furnished to the council are actually reliable. “The fact is that there are allegations sitting on the municipal manager’s head. He gets paid R2,6 million a year to bring out reports like this. It’s totally unacceptable and disgusting,” he said.Lambert echoed Strachan’s sentiments, saying the report of the municipal manager “is not worth the paper it is written on. This is a load of garbage.“We are getting nonsense given to us. We’ve said this time and again and last month I said the municipal manager must tell us — all of us, not the DA. We need to know what the status of the city is so that we can play our oversight role,” he said. Lambert accused Hadebe of not caring about putting people and their interests first nor about demonstrating good governance or delivering municipal service. As Hadebe’s employment status was being debated behind closed doors in the council chambers, disgruntled ANC members from Moses Mabhida region picketed outside City Hall demanding Hadebe be placed on suspension. They called for the council to institute a probe against him to test the numerous allegations of misconduct that have been brought against him. Leader of the disgruntled members, Sibusiso Mkhize, said Hadebe had been involved in scandals since his arrival at the municipality on secondment from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs two years ago.“We cannot fold our arms while all of this is happening. As ANC members, as the leader of society, we must always be the first ones to demand action whenever there are corruption allegations,” he said.The protesting ANC members also demanded the suspension of uMgungundlovu District municipal manager, Dr Ray Ngcobo, over the allegations of financial misconduct that were brought against him during his tenure as the general manager of economic development in Msunduzi. “We want him to clear his name first on all the corruption allegations he has been accused of before he can return to work,” he said.Mkhize said they would continue with their protests until their demands are met. “The fact that no one bothered to come and listen to our grievances today will not deter our spirits. We will fight until the end,” he said.Hadebe’s phone was off on Wednesday and efforts to contact him were unsuccessful.