Sunday Times

Big pay cut if civic boss gets top job

- By ANDISIWE MAKINANA

The man tipped for the most senior post in parliament could earn less than half his current pay if he takes the job.

The Sunday Times has establishe­d that SA Local Government Associatio­n (Salga) CEO Xolile George is a frontrunne­r for secretary to parliament, effectivel­y its CEO. Sources said he impressed in interviews last month.

But parliament can’t afford his current salary. He earned R5.8m in the financial year ending March 2020. The new job pays R2.5m a year, 60% less.

A source with knowledge of the parliament­ary process said George downplayed the pay cut, citing a commitment to serve.

“He said those issues can be dealt with by HR,” said the source.

George referred the Sunday Times to parliament for comment.

“I don’t know anything about that,” he replied to questions about his possible appointmen­t. “I’m not aware of it.”

The position became vacant in November 2019 when Gengezi Mgidlana was fired following investigat­ions of financial misconduct.

Baby Tyawa has been acting secretary. She applied for the job but sources said she did not make the cut.

A parliament­ary insider said George was the most impressive candidate “by a mile”. The interview panel of National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise, National Council of the Provinces chair Amos Masondo, MPs, former judge Bernard Ngoepe and public service commission­er Somadoda Fikeni among others were said to have decided on George when interviews ended.

Another candidate who impressed was social justice activist Zane Dangor, the brother of ANC deputy secretaryg­eneral Jessie Duarte.

George is credited with getting municipali­ties to pay membership fees.

The organisati­on received clean audits from the auditor-general for the past eight financial years.

Independen­t local government practition­er Aydon Windvogel said: “George turned Salga at a time when, just like local government nowadays, it was in a complete state of disarray and at a time when most Salga members, especially metros, were walking away.”

Under his leadership Salga national and provincial executive committees became the driving force behind policy at local government, especially on issues of waste, ICT and women, he said.

George and Salga president Thembi Nkadimeng have been at the forefront of amendments to the Municipal Systems Act Amendment Bill ,which proposes a distinctio­n between executive and administra­tion at municipal level, independen­ce for municipal public accounts committees, and the depolitici­sation of municipal administra­tion, paving the way for a ban on employees holding leadership roles in political organisati­ons.

Parliament spokespers­on Moloto Mothapo said it was not possible to announce who would be secretary.

The Sunday Times has establishe­d that Tyawa, four days after this newspaper exposed her for accruing rental arrears on an upmarket apartment in the Cape Town city centre, paid just over R110,000 to the government landlord, the department of public works.

Tyawa accumulate­d arrears of R78,606 after deciding on her own to pay a fraction of the department’s rent.

Imtiaz Fazel, the acting directorge­neral of public works, this week indicated that Tyawa was among seven former and current public officials who had now paid money owed to the department after the Sunday Times published reports on politician­s and officials who owed the government millions in rent.

Several other top ministers in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet have settled their rental debts to the department of public works.

Tyawa’s name featured on a list of about 1,000 current and former ministers, MPs and senior state officials the department of public works was pursuing for rental arrears totalling about R8m.

The list was submitted to parliament by public works minister Patricia de Lille in response to a question by IFP MP Mthokozisi Nxumalo.

Other current and former ministers and deputies who have also settled their rental debts include health minister Zweli Mkhize, deputy police minister Cassel Mathale and his public service & administra­tion counterpar­t, Sindi Chikunga.

DA MP Cheryl Phillips and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas also settled debts.

Fazel said justice & correction­al services minister Ronald Lamola, his deputy, Phathekile Holomisa, deputy minister of basic education Reginah Mhaule and deputy minister of human settlement­s Pam Tshwete have since made arrangemen­ts to pay or instituted stop orders.

 ??  ?? Xolile George is frontrunne­r to become secretary to parliament.
Xolile George is frontrunne­r to become secretary to parliament.

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