Municipal manager suspended – residents already feeling the effects of leadership vacuum

Embattled Mayor of Lesedi Local Municipality: Lerato Maloka

The stench of this rapidly rotting fish that is Lesedi Local Municipality can be smelt across the province as opposition parties have called on the MEC for Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Gauteng – Uhuru Moiloa – to declare the appointment of municipal manager Paul Mpele null and void.
Both the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters have voiced their concerns on this matter and while council decided that Mpele should be suspended pending further investigations. Mpele has refused to vacate his office.

Also Read: Mayor sidesteps Sheriff

It is believed that his reluctance to take a fully paid winter break has to do with the ongoing probe by the Special Investigations Unit.

Council decided last week that the Executive Manager of Corporate and Legal Services, Gugu Simelani, should be instated as acting Municipal Manager, only to find that Mpele is refusing to vacate his office.

 

It is now feared that the delivery of basic services could come to a standstill if this situation is not resolved.

 

Over the last 24-hours residents of Heidelberg and surrounds have already started to feel the effects of this lack of service delivery following a power outage. HERAUT has been reliably inform that the infrastructure at the sub-stations do not meet the minimum standards and that residents should brace themselves for more of the same this winter.

 

Unqualified manager refuses to leave

The initial proposal to award the position of Municipal Manager to Mpele – who arrived in Heidelberg having already spent time in police custody for fraud related accusations to the tune of R3.2 million in a previous local government position – was initially rejected by the majority of LLM’s councillors.
At the time the divisions within the ruling party was as prominent as a pimple on a teenager’s face.

 

Also Read: Lesedi Black Business Forum disapproves of mayor’s alleged meddling in procurement process

While Executive Mayor Lerato Maloka pushed to have her preferred candidate promoted from LLM Chief Financial officer (Mpele was then employed in this position at an annual salary of R1 228 000 which was beyond the limit of the regulated remuneration packages for a category five municipality) to Municipal Manager, she alienated herself from many a trusted comrade.
When those comrades said they would not support her decision to make Mpele the Municipal Manager, she threw a well-documented fit and physically attacked one of the top local councillors.
However, a week after Maloka’s rant, the ANC regrouped, waived their moral responsibility to their ratepayers, again ignored the legal procedures, and pushed ahead with the promotion of Mpele.
Important to note: LLM had at the time just rid itself of Municipal Manager Ayanda Makhanya who was suspended on full pay for two years while an investigation on corruption related charges was ongoing.

 

Makhanya eventually walked without being formally charged – this lack of accountability cost the ratepayers more than R2-million.
As for the current debacle, it has been confirmed that the promotion of Mpele was not approved by MEC Moiloa – as is required by the Municipal Systems Act.

Maloka had asked the MEC to increase Mpele’s salary to R1 554 275 from his current annual salary of R1 301 679.

MEC Moiloa then advised Maloka in two letters (dated 11 May and 20 June 2017) to apply to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to waive the category five limit in case of Mpele’s salary in his new position as Municipal Manager.

 

According to DA Councillor Mirna Mulder, Maloka did not follow the MEC’s advice and failed to contact the Minister.

 

 

“The Mayor has continuously misled council by refusing to respond to written questions regarding to Mpele’s appointment,” said Mulder.

 

“The DA is committed to the project of good governance and we will do all that we can to see that residents get the services to which they are entitled, across all municipalities in Gauteng.”
The EFFs Sedibeng Regional Chairperson, Isaac Khithika said that his party were equally outraged at the continued blatant disregard of the implementation of the rule of law.
“It is surprising how Mayor Lerato Maloka signed off on the appointment of the Municipal Manager in the absence of a concurrence letter from the MEC,” said Khithika.
“The EFF in Sedibeng therefore calls for the rescinding of the Municipal Manager with immediate effect. Meanwhile, Maloka is on maternity leave and is only expected back at work later this year.

 

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  AUTHOR
Heidelberg Nigel Heraut

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