The Herald (South Africa)

Rejected city boss resorts to courts

Mlokothi in bid to force Trollip’s hand after job offer reversal

- Kathryn Kimberley

VUYO Mlokothi, the man who was shunned for the position of city boss after the job had already been offered to him, has turned to the courts to force Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip to hire him.

If Mlokothi’s court bid is successful, it will be the second time a court has helped him claim the top job in a municipali­ty. The Nelson Mandela Bay council backtracke­d in November on its decision to hire Mlokothi, who had scored the highest in the city boss interview process.

Trollip said at the time that Mlokothi had failed to disclose crucial informatio­n relating to his previous employment and there was consequent­ly no longer a trust relationsh­ip between them.

But a fed-up Mlokothi believes the job as city manager – which has since been filled by Johann Mettler – is rightfully his.

In papers filed recently with the Port Elizabeth High Court, Mlokothi asks that the November 27 decision to rescind his appointmen­t be declared invalid and set aside.

He wants his appointmen­t as of December 1 to be confirmed and also wants a cost order against Trollip and the municipali­ty.

The city has filed a notice of opposition with the court.

The matter was removed from the court roll on Tuesday last week for Trollip and the municipali­ty to file their responding papers.

Trollip had submitted to the council on November 24 that as Mlokothi was not yet an employee of council as defined in the Labour Relations Act, they were not bound by their decision to hire him.

In October 2008, Mlokothi brought a civil suit against the Amathole District Municipali­ty after it appointed Mlamli Zenzile as municipal manager, despite Mlokothi scoring much higher in the interview process.

Mlokothi won the case and the decision

was reversed in November that year. In the present matter, he claimed his appointmen­t as city manager of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro prompted him to decline a number of other job prospects.

Mlokothi, a family man from Alberton, has since been appointed deputy director-general in the Eastern Cape Department of Cooperativ­e Governance.

In his affidavit before court, he said the rescission was for arbitrary reasons and was therefore unfair and lacking legal validity.

He had applied for the position on September 13 last year and was shortliste­d as one of the four best candidates. Interviews were then held on October 24.

“I was subsequent­ly advised in a telephonic conversati­on with Mr Trollip that the interviewi­ng panel had unanimousl­y decided on my appointmen­t as the preferred candidate,” he said in the affidavit.

This would be subject to the council endorsing the panel’s recommenda­tion.

Mlokothi said he was formally appointed as city manager on October 27.

From then, there had been quite a bit of correspond­ence between himself and Trollip with regard to his departure from the State Informatio­n Technology Agency (Sita).

“My response was that I had taken special leave pending the finalisati­on of an audit on some of my subordinat­es and that, at the time I left Sita, there were no unresolved matters in respect of my employment there,” Mlokothi said.

On November 14, following further inquiries from Trollip, Mlokothi informed him that due to a confidenti­ality clause in his separation agreement, he was not permitted to disclose further details of his departure from Sita.

Trollip then approached the chief executive of Sita, who confirmed that Mlokothi was bound by a confidenti­ality clause.

However, the chief executive said Sita had no objection if Mlokothi wanted to reveal the details. On November 15, Mlokothi e-mailed the separation agreement to Trollip.

However, much to his surprise, 10 days later he received a letter from Trollip, informing him that his appointmen­t had been rescinded based on his supposed non-disclosure about his departure from Sita.

The correspond­ence between Trollip and Mlokothi forms part of the court documents.

“My main complaint is not primarily the unlawful terminatio­n of my employment ... my claim is based on the fact that the resolution which nullifies my appointmen­t is unlawful and invalid,” the affidavit reads.


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