LIKHAYA Ngqezana, who was hired in 2013 as a mayoral strategic adviser, is tired of “idling” at home for the past two months – on full salary – since the change in the political guard at City Hall.
Ngqezana, who has had to hire a lawyer to force the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s hand to give him an office and meaningful work to do, insists he is being “maliciously deprived” of contributing to the people of the metro.
He claims city manager Mpilo Mbambisa and corporate services boss Mod Ndoyana have not provided him with the proper tools of his trade – such as an office – since he started working at the municipality in March 2013.
Ngqezana was seconded to former deputy mayor Chippa Ngcolomba’s office from Bhisho shortly after Ngcolomba was appointed.
After six months, he signed a contract with the city for two years and seven months, linked to the political term of office.
“I have been working for 18 months without any office,” Ngqezana said. “I was squatting with the senior administrator to the [former] deputy mayor and I would use the boardroom to do my work.”
He said that since the change in the political leadership on May 18, he had not been allocated meaningful work to do.
Instead, he had been sent home by chief operating officer Mzwake Clay while his office was being renovated.
“I am not working now, I’m idle,” a frustrated Ngqezana said. “It’s an insult to myself, the ratepayer and taxpayer for me to be paid a salary while I’m being prohibited by the powers that be to do my work.
“I’m being maliciously deprived of contributing to the people of the metro. I believe the ratepayers must be respected. I’m itching to serve the people of this metro.”
In a letter to Ngqezana’s attorney, Andre Vlok, Clay said Ngqezana should report to his office on July 13 to resume his duties.
However, when Ngqezana arrived, he was sent home by Clay, who said he would contact him when the office was ready.
In Vlok’s letter, dated July 14, he says: “This entire charade is quite unacceptable and most embarrassing to our client.
“He is a senior employee of the municipality, and he has now been asked to put up with this type of inept and disrespectful behaviour for months on end . . .”
Municipal spokesman Roland Williams said Ngqezana’s office was being renovated and he had a contract with the municipality.
Williams did not respond to questions about Ngqezana’s complaints that he had not been given any meaningful work to do.
He also did not answer questions about Ngqezana’s annual cost to the metro. Ngqezana referred questions about his salary to the municipality.
Ngqezana’s complaint is not the first by a political appointee.
The metro was hauled to court in 2013 when political strategist in the deputy mayor’s office, Nobuntu Makapela, was shuttled to another department while being paid R92 000 a month.
This was after Ngcolomba removed her from his office – as she had been hired by his predecessor, Nancy Sihlwayi.
Unhappy about not being given real work to do, Makapela turned to the labour court which ruled that she be reinstated in her old job.