Bennett’s lawyer also confirms ex-minister strayed
Prominent Mbabane businessman Walter Bennett sought his own legal opinion on the matter concerning the disputed contract of Municipal Council of Mbabane Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gideon Mhlongo.
This legal opinion was issued to Buzzby Services (Bennett’s company) on July 15, 2018. Another one was issued on August 22, 2018.
This opinion was given by lawyer Muzi Simelane, who was also of the view that former Minister for Housing and Urban Development Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza abused his power.
The lawyer said the former minister had no power to issue orders for appointment of council employees. He could not invoke Section 47.
Simelane said the former minister relied on Section 47 of t he Urban Government Act of 1969.
Section 47 of the Act is divided into four subsections.
They read thus:
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, Section 42, where applicable, and any regulations and standing orders made under the provisions of section 51, a council may employ such persons and engage such agents as it considers necessary for the efficient discharge of its duties and functions upon such terms and conditions as it may determine.
(2) A council may, with the approval of the minister and with the consent of the person concerned, appoint to any position in its service a government officer seconded to the council’s ser- vice for that purpose, for such period and on such conditions as the minister may approve.
(3) No person may be employed by a council who is a member of the council or who has been a member at any time during the six months prior to his appointment to the service of the council.
(4) Where a council refuses, fails or neglects to comply with any provisions requiring it to appoint certain staff, the minister may, after having given the council not less than 14 days’ prior notice of his intention to do so, exercise on behalf of the council and on such terms and conditions as he deems expedient, the powers of appointment conferred upon the council by this Act.
Simelane, in this instance, said Section 47 (4) could not be applied because council had taken a resolution not to renew the contract.
“It is not that council has refused, failed or neglected. Minister (former Minister Mabuza) has no power to direct council on what it has to do in handling the contract issues of any staff,” Simelane said.
He further stated that the fact that the decision taken by council was not to the former minister’s liking did not mean the former minister had to impose an ultimatum.
Therefore, according to Simelane, the former minister acted outside the provisions of the Urban Government Act of 1969. The former minister failed to indicate the provision that council failed, refused or neglected to comply with.
Prominent Mbabane businessman Walter Bennett.