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Municipal manager suspended for ‘nonsensical reasons’

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A probe has been called for into the precautionary suspension as well as a forensic investigation be conducted into the affairs of the municipality.

THE SACP has requested the Northern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) to urgently intervene after the recently-appointed Renosterberg municipal manager was placed on precautionary suspension last week, for “nonsensical reasons”. 

The SACP has also requested that a forensic investigation be conducted into the affairs of the municipality.

SACP Joe Slovo district secretary Ntamehlo Sivuyile stated that the suspension had caused disorder among the ANC councillors and the Renosterberg community. 

“In light of the above, the SACP is of the view that there must be an urgent intervention from the MEC of Coghsta to ensure that all due processes were followed in line with the regulations on disciplinary code and procedures applicable to senior managers,” said Sivuyile on Tuesday.

He pointed out that the council had failed to act on issues of discipline, accountability and clean governance following recent allegations of maladministration and irregular expenditure committed by senior officials.

“This includes increasing salaries without council approval, appointment of service providers without following the necessary procedures, appointments of personnel without following due processes, failure to pay third parties such as pension funds, and deliberate outsourcing of basic services with huge financial implications on the municipality.” 

Sivuyile indicated that a service provider was apparently paid more than R100 000 per month to provide refuse removal services for the municipality. 

“This is while the municipality is financially distressed and struggling to generate revenue. 

“What is inexcusable is that there has been no appetite from the side of leadership to take action against those implicated. It is this lack of consistency that causes the public spats on social media and tension within the local municipality.” 

He called for an independent forensic investigation to be conducted into the affairs of the municipality, dating back from the 2018/19 financial year to date. 

“Council must ensure that an independent investigator be appointed to investigate the allegations levelled against the municipal manager.” 

Sivuyile advised that a senior official who was not from the same municipality should be appointed to act in the position of municipal manager. 

“The MEC for the Department of Coghsta must first be satisfied that the precautionary suspension was procedural.

“The SACP is deeply concerned about the degeneration of the municipality possibly caused by leaders who have a personal interest in that municipality. This has led to a total disregard of service delivery to the people of Renosterberg Municipality. We are calling on the ruling party to intervene objectively and be consistent when dealing with issues in that municipality. Failure to do so carries a possibility of the ruling party losing that municipality to the opposition in the next elections.”  

Renosterberg mayor Hans Oliphant said on Tuesday that the municipal manager had been placed on suspension with full benefits, for the next three to four weeks, based on the recommendation of the majority of councillors. 

“The reasons provided for the suspension included a salary adjustment, the appointment of consultants, the appointment of a safety and health officer, appointment of a disaster food officer and the appointment of a driver. The municipality has requested internal auditors to investigate,” said Oliphant.

He added that an acting municipal manager would be appointed from the district at the next council meeting this week. 

“The municipal manager will be given an opportunity to present his case.” 

The spokesperson for Coghsta, Xhanti Teki, indicated that MEC Bentley Vass would allow disciplinary processes to unfold.

“The district municipality has been requested to look into the matter of the secondment of a municipal manager to Renosterberg. The interest of the MEC in all municipalities is to see corrupt-free municipalities that are optimally and seamlessly delivering services to the people.”