An­other event­ful day in Bay pol­i­tics

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - Siyam­tanda Capa and No­maz­ima Nkosi ca­[email protected]­soblack­star.co.za

Act­ing city boss Pe­ter Neil­son was in the hot seat on Thurs­day as coun­cil­lors de­manded to know who had told him to have the cases of sus­pended and fired staff re­viewed.

Neil­son would only say it was mem­bers of the may­oral com­mit­tee.

He had to an­swer to coun­cil­lors of the mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee (Mpac) as to why he got a third-party law firm to re­view the cases cur­rently be­ing han­dled by Gray Moodliar At­tor­neys for the city when the ac­counts com­mit­tee was still de­cid­ing on the way for­ward.

The coun­cil­lors ar­gued the move to re­view cases of sus­pended of­fi­cials nul­li­fied any progress made by the pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee.

The is­sue of sus­pended of­fi­cials is among the pri­or­i­ties listed in the com­mit­tee’s quar­terly re­port.

DA coun­cil­lor Ka­belo Mogatosi de­scribed the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion as ir­ra­tional.

“We en­dorsed that those peo­ple can come back but here we are sit­ting and talk­ing about con­se­quence man­age­ment,” he said.

“It goes against ev­ery­thing that we have been work­ing on for the past three years.

“This thing is very sim­ple, I want to ig­nore the ir­ra­tional de­ci­sion that was taken in coun­cil,” Mogatosi said.

DA coun­cil­lor Morne Steyn said the re­turn of sus­pended of­fi­cials would be em­bar­rass­ing for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity when the au­di­tor-gen­eral flagged it.

“Where does this leave [the pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee] as we have been mon­i­tor­ing this for some time now?

“It’s of great con­cern. “We can’t just bring peo­ple back to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity when they have been sus­pended, even if there is an in­de­pen­dent re­view of these cases.

“This in­de­pen­dent re­view will amount to waste­ful and ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture in any event,” Steyn said.

ACDP coun­cil­lor Lance Groot­boom de­manded to know who had is­sued the in­struc­tion.

“We have of­fi­cials that have been charged and are go­ing to dis­ci­plinary process, the then act­ing city man­ager said they must go on re­view and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity paid money for that to hap­pen.

“These hear­ings are cost­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­ity money.

“Some of these mat­ters are very se­ri­ous. Mr Neil­son must as the ac­count­ing of­fi­cer ac­count on this.”

Neil­son said it was too soon for him to write a re­port be­cause he was go­ing through a lot of pa­per­work.

“Ob­vi­ously, Mpac needs a re­port be­cause I be­lieve that what­ever process has to be fol­lowed Mpac and the coun­cil need to be fully briefed.

“There is no-one that is go­ing to bring back any sus­pended of­fi­cials or make a de­ci­sion that will not go through the of­fice of the city man­ager.”

He up­dated the coun­cil­lors on what had hap­pened so far.

“With­out hav­ing stud­ied each in­di­vid­ual case, I can only speak gener­i­cally.

“I un­der­stand that a num­ber of these go back four or five years and in some cases have been con­sid­ered by very smart le­gal minds.”

He said there was no in­ten­tion to bring back of­fi­cials with­out study­ing each case.

“But we can’t con­tinue spend­ing mil­lions on peo­ple who are do­ing noth­ing – some­one has to take a de­ci­sion.

“None of these de­ci­sions is go­ing to be taken with­out due con­sid­er­a­tion for the best value for the in­sti­tu­tion.”

Neil­son said he had ap­pointed a small sub­com­mit­tee as he was not a pro­fes­sional lawyer or labour ex­pert. It com­prises the chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer and labour re­la­tions and in­ter­nal au­dit of­fi­cials.

Neil­son said he had re­quested that all the opin­ions re­ceived on each case be con­sid­ered by the sub­com­mit­tee.

EFF coun­cil­lor Lukhanyo Mrara said: “This is a com­mit­tee that must hold the ex­ec­u­tive ac­count­able – if it means that we must call the mayor him­self to come and ac­count, then let’s do that.”

The coun­cil on Tues­day de­cided that Neil­son must im­ple­ment any rec­om­men­da­tions from the at­tor­neys re­view­ing the dis­ci­plinary and labour-re­lated cases.

● Sus­pended hous­ing di­rec­tor Mvu­leni Mapu claimed on Thurs­day that he and other sus­pended of­fi­cials were part of a purge led by sus­pended city boss Jo­hann Met­tler.

His state­ment was also on be­half of for­mer sup­ply chain con­tracts con­troller Sox Nkan­jeni, for­mer pub­lic health ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Andile Tolom and ex-act­ing di­rec­tor of waste man­age­ment, Nkosi­nathi Dolo.

“The hit list tar­geted strate­gic po­si­tions and em­ploy­ees who were per­ceived to be threats in sup­ply chain, bud­get and trea­sury, le­gal, hous­ing, hu­man re­sources and pub­lic health,” the let­ter says.

“There was never a mas­sive cor­rup­tion in this metro as was claimed. Ever since 2015, not a sin­gle re­port out­lines the pur­ported cor­rup­tion or­ches­trated by the em­ploy­ees.”

The of­fi­cials chal­lenged the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to pub­lish all in­for­ma­tion show­ing any wrong­do­ing by the im­pli­cated of­fi­cials and to make avail­able case num­bers of those al­leged to have com­mit­ted acts of fraud and cor­rup­tion.

Pic­ture: EU­GENE COET­ZEE

HOT SEAT: Act­ing city man­ager Pe­ter Neil­son is grilled by mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee coun­cil­lors at Thurs­day’s meet­ing

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