Msunduzi News (English)
Khathide says he will be part of the solution
THE much anticipated appointement of the City Manager happened this year with the seasoned Mr Madoda Khathide assuming office in April. His presence at the City Hall is hoped to bring change in Msunduzi and improve the situation for the better.
“Normally when I’m appointed as the Municipal Manager I usually plan ahead but this time I’m not bringing anything new,” he said.
He explained that he had already seen that the management team that Msunduzi has is made up of people that he can rely on because they are highly-skilled, driven and dedicated.
“We came from where one doesn’t look at problems as problematic but see them as solutions, that is how we are going to work here in Msunduzi because even though there are problems but if you follow up you find that they were caused by people, therefore it is also the people who are going to find solutions to them,” said Khathide.
He added that Msunduzi Municipality covers an extensive area and it has a lot going for it so it should not be having financial challenges so he will be working with the officials to get the City out of this situation.
“It’s not just the issue of finances but also waste management and both these problems were caused by people along with the potholes. All of these can be addressed because it was people who did these but we must delve deep into the root causes,” added Khathide.
He said he will listen to all municipal employees, bring them closer to him and develop a bond based on trust so that whatever fears they might have had will disappear.
“I will also be visiting their work stations and not just call them to my office because they might find it intimidating for them to come here. Sometimes when you ask questions while sitting in my office you don’t get all the answers,” he said.
Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla said he was looking for three things before Khathide’s appointment and those are consumer debt collection, addressing issues of waste management as well restoring the culture of accountability and the City’s employees.
Khathide said these are the backbone of restoring the work ethic of municipal staff.
“When there is no trust amongst the Municipality’s workforce we can’t progress. I’m saying this because municipal workers are supposed to operate in a synergy not in silos or where someone is withholding information from colleagues. Therefore it is important to the employees to trust each other,” said Khathide.
He added that that he will be visiting even offices that are not for managers and he might come unannounced but the aim will not be to find wrongdoings but to make him more accessible to all the staff members so that they know that they can come to him if they have any issues.
Khathide has extensive experience in local government. He has served as councillor from 1996 to 2006 and was also an executive committee member. While he was a councillor he was also an Accounting and Business Studies’ teacher and previously served as a school principal.
“From 2006 I was working for the Ladysmith Municipality where I was an Executive Manager Local Economic Development which made the Deputy Municipal Manager. Then from 2012 I was appointed as Municipal Manager. In 2018 I was then appointed as the Municipal Manager in Dumbe,” said Khathide of his experience.
Commenting on Msunduzi’s finances, he said in the meeting he had with Chief Financial Officer, Mrs Nelisiwe Ngcobo, and she told him they are issuing monthly statement to consumers but only about 40% of the people are paying.
He said he also followed up on the matter of the electricity contractor that was appointed to fix faults but is also doing the disconnections.
“I’ve requested the CFO to allocate three employees to do the disconnections so that the contractor can focus on doing the repairs instead of the disconnections because that is what their contract states. Also if we have our own internal staff doing disconnections it will be easier to regulate and to hold them accountable if they fail to perform their duties,” said Khathide.
He said he was also appraised on the R4 billion consumer debt which made him come to a realisation that in fact Msunduzi has a lot of money so his responsibility is to collect it so that it can be put to good use.
“When it comes to the R1 billion for water I have to make peace that I will never be able to get that and I don’t want to waste the City’s money by taking people to court because I will never win that one since a large number of the debtors are actually people living in poverty. However I will be following up on some of the debtors until they pay what they owe because they can afford to,” said
Manager said the
Government gives municipalities a grant so that they can continue with a provision of services to indigent households but the municipality needs those who qualify to come forward and register so that the City can be able to get that grant.
“What should be amongst the key priorities for this Municipality right now is for it to be able to pay its creditors and have a cash coverage of three months.”
Khathide said those who owe the City for municipal services, including businesses must sell their assets if need be and settle their debts. He said he knew that there are fears that businesses will leave the City if they are pressed to pay their municipal debt but he knows that properly-run businesses budget to pay their debts - they are not just about making profit - but should they decide to leave then he hopes those who will come will do things the right way.
“I want to first look into the top 100 debtors and that is the group I’m going to chase and before we reconnect them they must pay at least 60% of their debt,” he said.
Khathide concluded by saying: “Measures to prevent spending money unnecessarily are still in place.
“I’m also going to review all the posts that have been advertised to see if they are critical and in doing this I’m going to be guided by the provisions of the Municipal Systems Act (60-61) which state the responsibilities of the accounting officer because we cannot advertise positions that are not critical for service delivery.”