NELSON Mandela Bay mayor Zanoxolo Wayile is to begin talks with opposition parties to convene an “all-inclusive” panel to interview candidates for the municipal manager position by the end of next month.
Speaking at yesterday’s launch of public participation meetings before the adoption of the 2012-13 municipal budget and integrated development plan (IDP), Wayile said the best way to deal with the filling of other crucial positions – several of them executive director posts – was first to appoint a permanent municipal manager.
The post has been vacant since late 2009 when former municipal manager Graham Richards was given a golden handshake to vacate the position before his contract ended.
An attempt by the metro late last year to appoint Richards’ successor was halted by integrated development plan head Dr Sithembele Vatala – currently suspended amid an internal disciplinary inquiry.
Vatala interdicted the city against making the appointment, claiming he was the preferred contender according to interview scores in his possession.
The court case was later dropped when the parties agreed to meet before the Bargaining Council – a process which had yet to commence – allowing the metro to re-advertise the post.
“With the recent departure of our chief financial officer [Kevin Jacoby], the filling of the vacant posts is all the more crucial. We are endeavouring to have a new municipal manager in his office by April,” Wayile said.
Jacoby left at the end of last month to take up a similar role with the City of Cape Town.
“In terms of the recruitment process, there will be multiparty talks,” Wayile said. “The recruitment will be an inclusive process. As soon as that is done, we will brief the public.”
He said “space will be found” on the selection panel for the opposition.
He wanted most, if not all, of the vacant posts to be filled by the time the 2012-13 budget was passed by council by the end of June, he said.
“No force will stand in the way of us appointing suitably qualified people.
“The vacant positions will be filled on merit and to professionalise the metro. I firmly believe this time we are not going to go to any court.”
In the wake of the global economic crisis, Wayile said it was a daunting task to find enough resources to tackle the city’s infrastructure requirements.
He said the metro had also requested support in terms of Section 154 of the constitution, which specifically requires that provincial governments should support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities.
“We have identified a number of gaps within the institution and have asked province to provide Section 154 support,” he said.
Speaking out against fraud and corruption in local government, Wayile said: “We are not going to let this metro degenerate into a state of [dysfunction]. We are going to ensure that our children grow up in a society where fraud and corruption are not the order of the day.”
ý The mayor and executive directors of the metro’s various directorates will hold meetings in various wards to present the IDP, budget and annual report over the course of this month. A schedule of the meetings is available at www.nelsonmandelabay.gov.za