ENOCH Mgijima local municipality’s council speaker has called for transparency in the appointment of a municipal manager, complaining that the mayor and her followers had acted unprocedurally.
Mayor Lindiwe Gunuza-Nkwentsha and her panel decided to appoint Thembani Samuel as the new municipality manager without waiting for council approval, said speaker Mzoxolo Peter, adding that the municipality, which comprises 34 wards, should not settle for mediocrity and unaccountability.
“There’s nothing wrong with the panel of interviewers, we don’t have a grudge against them, but there’s no way we can accept and support something not endorsed by the council,” he said.
The municipality has been without a manager since January, with Siyabonga Nkonki acting in the position. Ongoing political infighting between the mayor and speaker has allegedly been standing in the way of a permanent appointment being made.
Gunuza-Nkwentsha last month told the Daily Dispatch that the municipality should appoint a manager as soon as possible or they would forfeit the funds for much-needed service delivery in the municipality. On Friday she said it was up to the council to approve their decision.
A series of failed council meetings were held for most of last month, with the main agenda being the appointment of Samuel, but none of them resulted in a decision being made.
The vacant post was advertised late last year and 27 people, including a former education SG, Mthunywa Ngonzo, responded.
By February 13 five people – Similo Dayi, Nomthandazo Mazwai, Mcebisi Nonjola, Andile Sihlahla and Samuel – were shortlisted. After interviewing the five, the panel – chaired by Gunuza-Nkwentsha – recommended Samuel for the post on March 3.
As is procedural, the cooperative governance department office has to assess those who are shortlisted for the posts into four categories – basic, competent, advanced and superior – on a 12-point competency and proficiency matrix. Samuel achieved four nods of competency out of 12. Two other candidates, Dayi achieved 10 competency nods and Sihlahla 11.
In the overall achievement category, Samuel rated basic while the two other candidates received competent results.
However Gunuza-Nkwentsha said Samuel met the requirements needed to fill the post. “We recommended him and the council had to decide,” she said.
Peter said: “We can’t break the law. All the necessary processes should be followed and I will have to answer if something goes wrong. We are not settling for mediocrity – we want candidates that can do the work, this is a big municipality as it is the amalgamation of three municipalities – Inkwanca, Tsolwana and Lukhanji. We are calling for things to be done right.”
Cooperative governance MEC Fikile Xasa’s office said they have not received any submission from the municipality confirming appointment of the municipality manager. — firstname.lastname@example.org