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Appointment of acting Sol manager questioned

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Officials appointed in an acting capacity will receive the salary difference between the two posts

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SOL PLAATJE municipal manager Goolam Akharwaray and chief financial officer (CFO) Lydia Mahloko were placed on precautionary suspension with full benefits during a special council meeting that took place yesterday.

According to the 2017/18 budget, the Sol Plaatje municipal manager, from July 1 last year, earned a basic salary of R1.76 million, while contributions amounted to R319 016 and allowances to R183 600, giving him a total annual package of
R2 265 013. The budgeted increase for senior managers from July 1 was 5.5%.

As a senior official directly responsible to the municipal manager, the total annual package of the CFO for the 2017/18 financial was around R1.5 million. This was also budgeted to be increased by 5.5% from July 1.

Officials appointed in an acting capacity will, according to an insider, receive the salary difference (although not the full remuneration package) between the two posts.

Akharwaray and Mahloko have been on special leave since last week, on the advice of the provincial ANC following violent community protests that took place calling for their immediate removal.

Opposition parties yesterday queried the appointment of the acting municipal manager, Ruth Sebolecwe, who is the corporate services executive director, as she was appointed before the matter was presented to council.

Sebolecwe will, in turn, appoint an acting CFO.

A letter signed by the executive mayor, dated July 16 – a day before the special council meeting, advised Sebolecwe that she would be appointed as acting municipal manager as from Monday, subject to council approval.

Everyone was told to leave the public gallery yesterday when the suspension of Akharwaray and Mahloko was discussed as it was listed as a confidential matter.

It was agreed during the meeting that Sebolecwe should be appointed as the acting municipal manager in the interests of brining stability to the municipality for the duration of the precautionary suspensions.

There was also plenty of bickering amongst the councillors yesterday after the acting Speaker of Sol Plaatje Municipality, Benjamin Springbok, was called “useless”.

ANC councillors told EFF councillor Francis Thulo to withdraw his remarks on Springbok – for calling him “useless” – as they felt it was derogatory and disrespectful.

During a shouting and finger-pointing match, Thulo told Springbok that he was too emotional and did not respect the rules of the house.

Thulo was later thrown out of the chambers.

EFF councillor Sandra Doyle added fuel to the fire by telling Springbok not to be “told what to do” by other councillors, amid jeers from the EFF benches that he “should not be useless”.

EFF councillor Lorato Duba insisted that Thulo be allowed back into chambers.

Springbok retaliated by telling Thulo that he was not emotional and that he should “not be so stressed”.

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika said he would not tolerate any grandstanding from councillors.

“We will not subject this house to this sort of behaviour. People must respect the rules of this house,” said Matika.

He urged Springbok to take charge of council.

Manager in the Office of the Mayor, George Mosimane, yesterday confirmed that Sebolecwe was appointed as the acting municipal manager.

“In light of Akharwaray’s absence, the mayor had to appoint an acting municipal manager in order for the council meeting to proceed. If the municipal manager is sick, council meetings still have to take place,” Mosimane explained.

“Council resolved to place the CFO and municipal manager on precautionary suspension with full benefits as from today (yesterday), pending an investigation by the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and Provincial Treasury.

“The officials will be afforded seven days to make representations to council as to why they should not be suspended.”

Mosimane stated that no charges had been formulated yet.

“Should any wrongdoing be established, council will apply its mind. Should an investigation proceed, the team will have to submit a report and make recommendations to the mayor and council within 30 days.

Councillors and municipal officials have expressed concern regarding how revenue will be generated to make up for the shortfall now that the R260 basic electricity levy is no longer applicable.

“While it is good for the consumer to have affordable electricity, Nersa still needs to be paid for this administration levy. If the municipality is unable to pay Eskom, the whole city will also be saddled with power interruptions.”