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Sol could get new manager

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Goolam's contract ends on August 2

EXPIRE: Goolam Akharwaray, Municipal managers contract is to expire in two weeks.

A NEW municipal manager could be on the cards for Kimberley with the contract of the current incumbent, Goolam Akharwaray, due to expire in two weeks.

Yesterday, during a special Sol Plaatje City Council meeting, a confidential item regarding the position was scheduled to be discussed.

It is believed that the executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, has been authorised to look into the matter and while no confirmation could be obtained yesterday on the next step forward, there is a likelihood that Akharwaray could be asked to stay on and his contract renewed.

However, time is running out with Akharwaray’s contract due to expire on August 2 – just two weeks away.

The city found itself in a similar position five years ago when it was realised in June that Akharwarays’ contract had expired a month earlier. On November 2012, he was re-appointed and by law his contract expires one year after council elections, which means his five-year contract will come to an end on August 2 this year.

Akharwaray has held the position of municipal manager since his initial appointment on a three-year contract in August 2009.

Just months earlier, the DFA ran an article under the headline “He must save our city” disclosing that the former Speaker of the Northern Cape Legislature and Finance MEC was being touted as a possible new municipal manager for the city.

At the time, the municipality was going through a very difficult period, with the local authority facing several legal battles, based on alleged wrongdoing and tender violations, coupled with labour unrest and a lack of funds to finance infrastructure projects.

The city’s finances were particularly shaky, with expenses exceeding revenue and no reserves, while the Auditor-General year after year raised the red flag, warning that the municipality would soon no longer be able to continue as a going concern.

Deciding on whether to reappoint Akharwaray, or stretch the net wider, the city’s fathers will need to consider his track record in turning around the fortunes of the municipality.

Over the years, it is clear that the municipality has been turned around and has achieved unqualified audit opinions for several consecutive years.

The local authority’s focus on investing in bulk infrastructure has led to the resolution of the Kamfers Dam problems whilst the city also experienced a construction boom with the university being one of the lead results of such focus.

An additional 80 MVA from Eskom, while not being used currently, will provide for the future growth of the city as more buildings are being constructed like the hospitals and the university.

Litigation has dropped tremendously while the supply chain processes have been streamlined.

The supply of water, however, still remains a challenge. The Newton reservoir is currently being upgraded with pipe replacements, while the water network was recently refurbished and new valves installed.

Another major challenge in the city is the ageing sewage network, which has seen raw sewerage constantly overflowing in many streets. Gogga Pump Station and the line to Homevale will need urgent attention in the near future.

One of the issues that will have to be considered in possibly renewing Akharwaray’s contract, is his cost to the city. His total package currently is R2.265 million and has been shrouded in controversy, with questions being raised previously by both the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the DA.

In 2012, members of the municipal union took to the streets, upturning litter bins to vent their frustration, while Akharwaray himself escaped unharmed after angry striking workers hurled garbage at him.

The Samwu members were enraged over a council resolution to increase Akharwaray’s salary package to R2 million.

From its side, the DA’s Andrew Louw pointed out at the time that Akharwaray earned more than any other municipal manager in the Province, including those from the district municipalities, and more than the municipal manager of one of the six metropolitan municipalities.

According to Louw, the municipal manager from Buffalo City had a basic salary of R977 914, while the municipal manager from Sol Plaatje pocketed R1.48 million.

Akharwaray also enjoyed perks worth at least R175 200.

“As of April 1, 2015, Akharwaray’s total remuneration package is R2.051 million. This is more than magistrates, members of Parliament, mayors, traditional kings, high court judges and deputy ministers earn. In fact, it is higher than the salary of the premier, which is reportedly R1.7 million. It is also significantly higher than any of the members of the executive council, who earn around R1.2 million,” Louw said in a statement at the time.

According to the 2017/18 budget, the Sol Plaatje municipal manager, from July 1 this year, earns a basic salary of R1.76 million, while contributions amount to R319 016 and allowances to R183 600, giving him a total annual package of
R2 265 013.

If the council decides to renew Akharwaray’s contract, it must be done prior to the termination of his existing contract.

It can also recruit a new municipal manager. However, the executive mayor has to obtain approval from council to fill the position.

The post must be advertised within 14 days from approval, with a closing date between 14 to 30 days from the date of the advertisement.

Applicants will be shortlisted by a selection panel, followed by screening and then interviews. The selection panel will submit a report and recommendation to the council to make the appointment.