Secunda – The Govan Mbeki Municipality resolved on Friday, 16 July 2021 to terminate their contract with the Municipal Manager, Mr Felani Mndebele.
In a council meeting that was described by Cllr James Masango as a Cangaroo Court to fire the Municipal Manager, the ANC voted as per their party caucus decisions leaving the Municipality open for further lawsuits and expenses.
“The virtual meetings at this council will not pass any law in SA,” Said Cllr James Masango, “No procedure to conduct the meeting and too much corruption on quorum and voting results.” James has vast experience in the provincial and national legislature where he served with distinction in the past.
The GMM council resolved that the mayor should enter into negotiations with the Municipal Manager to terminate his contract. This was opposed by the Democratic Alliance and other opposition parties.
These negotiations reached a dead end and the item was once again brought to council to make a decision that will no doubt cost the municipal dearly according to DA Cllr Ciska Jordaan.
In the discussion of the item, Executive Mayor Cllr Zuma acknowledged the fact that Felani obtained a court order against the Municipality compelling them to allow the MM to return to work and halt all proceedings against him.
This court order was given by Acting High Court Judge, AJ Brauckmann. Case number 775/2021, at paragraph 60(2) states: “the first Respondent is interdicted and restrained from continuing with the disciplinary proceedings against the Applicant on the 16 October 2020 until the first Respondent complies with the Local Government: Municipal Regulations on financial misconduct procedure and criminal proceedings dated 30 May 2014 “Regulations 2014”
“The ANC decided to push through their agenda without regard to the high court judgement,” Said Ciska Jordaan, “We all have to follow and respect the law in South Africa and clearly this council does not!”
The item in the agenda states the following, “Council has since taken a decision to source a legal opinion on interpretation and implementation of the court order. The opinion has since found that the council should have appealed the order which council had seen this route also as costly and time-consuming while the municipality is in financial constraints.”
This clearly shows that the mayor thinks that legal opinion carries more weight than the High Court Judgement.
In a document (that the Bulletin obtained a copy off), addressed to the Executive Mayor Cllr NB Zuma, Mr Mndebele made it abundantly clear that they will pursue legal action.
The following points were raised in the letter:
- As far as we are concerned, there is nothing that prevents our client from returning to work. Hence, he will be available and hereby notify yourselves that he will return to his workstation on Monday, 19 July 2021.
- In the event that the Municipality prevents or obstructs such an event, we hold instructions to hold the Municipality and/or all the officials that may be found to be implicated in contempt of Acting Judge Brauckmann’s order liable.
- We further hold instructions to launch, separately, an action to cause the Municipality to compensate our client for all the losses he incurred as a result of the breach of contract contemplated in paragraph 60(4) of Acting Judge Brauckmann’s order. This will include all legal fees incurred by our client in defending the unlawful process, which legal fees currently stand at approximately R2 million.
Although there were no judgements on costs it is highly likely that if Mndebele proceeds with his legal action costs could be awarded against the municipality.
In the judgement by Acting High Court Judge, AJ Brauckmann costs were awarded against GMM. This was after the team from GMM tried to mislead the High Court regarding the Council resolution taken by the council regarding the appeal.
Read Mayor misleads council to push ANC agenda for more on this.
The initial charges against the Municipal Manager stemmed from the previous Mayor Cllr Thandiwe Ngxonono.
In his response Mndebele stated that there is massive political interference,” there is massive political interference meted out by the Executive Mayor since my appointment on the following issues, namely: recruitment/appointment of staff, the appointment of Service Providers to do business with Council and Payment of Service Providers.”
Thandiwe Ngxonono was implicated by the much talked about Section 106 report. But was still awarded a full-time post as a Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) after her resignation as mayor. This is a post that carries a substantial salary.
The Section 106 report stated in recommendations that “council invoke the Code of Conduct of Councillors and take appropriate action against Executive Mayor Cllr TY Ngxonono and MMC NE Nkosi for their interference in the appointment of employees at the municipality.”
NE Nkosi was promoted to another post by the ANC executives.
The Democratic Alliance were particularly vocal in their opposition to the termination of the MM’s employment. “No measure of good advice was considered by the ANC majority,” said James Masango.
All other parties voted against the resolution, but the ANC used their majority to resolve on the termination.
The executive mayor wasted no time in writing to Felani Mndebele to inform him of the council’s decision.
“The ANC is continuing to push their political agenda to the disadvantage of the residents of Govan Mbeki Municipality,” said DA Cllr Ciska Jordaan.
“The termination of Mr Mndebele’s contract is nothing more than a witch hunt and internal strife within the ANC. If he decides to retaliate with legal action, the municipality faces the risks of hefty legal costs and judgments against what surely cannot be seen as a legal termination, also considering the ruling of judge Brauckmann.” continued Ciska, “This is money that should be used to serve our communities! Sadly, we can see in current affairs in our country how the ANC’s battles can boil over into the public and harm our nation, and this is no different in Govan Mbeki.”
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