During the campaign trail leading to the August local government elections, the current leaders at the City Hall were so eloquent on how transparency, accountability and consultation under the then administration had failed the communities. They further promised to “master” it, but that has turned out to be clear rhetoric.
For the past six months our municipality has been characterised by blunder after blunder, starting with the appointment of the city manager to the reported R1-million handshake for Pierre Voges and the handling of the policy on SMMEs which led to the mayoral committee taking a decision to invite the national department to help.
Since Johann Mettler landed on our shores in December 2015, he has brought much-needed stability in the municipality, he is a team member and he leads by example in front nogal.
I respect him because he is a professional, does not take nonsense or shortcuts, and he does not buy faces at the expense of serving the people.
But the way he ascended to the City Hall was poorly handled by the political leadership in the form of mayor Athol Trollip. Mettler is highly qualified, and he meets the requirements and competency for the job.
I believe he has a lot to offer to us as residents.
The unfortunate part is the composition of the panel which was tasked by the council to oversee the appointment of the city manager.
The guidelines for the appointment of municipal managers stipulate the following regarding the selection panel:
- It must compose three to five members;
- It must be chaired by the mayor or a delegate of the mayor;
- A councillor designated by council (here it was Dean Biddulph);
- A member with expertise in the area of municipal manager (here there were two chiefs of staff and the recruitment agency representative);
- An administrator for administration and minute-taking (I assume Vuyo Zitumane did that, although not specified);
- The unions are well represented (we tick this). The mayor is given full responsibility to run the process or the mayor may delegate the authority. The following needs to be answered:
- Why then did both the mayor and the deputy sit on the panel?
- What informs the presence of the City of Cape Town chief of staff, Craig Kesson, and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality mayor’s chief of staff, Kristoff Adelbert?
- It is reported that their status was that of observers, why?
- What was the role in the panel of Zitumane?
- Why were councillors from the opposition not given the observer status in the interest of transparency?
- Who was recommended at second and third place?
The last issue I would like to bring to the fore is the reported golden handshake to Voges by the MBDA.
If what has been reported is true, then we are in serious trouble, especially we as ratepayers because of secrecy and unaccountability, and our finances are not in good hands. Therefore, the board and the municipality cannot be trusted on this one.
The MBDA is fully funded by the metro, it accounts to the metro for its finances and programmes, the memorandum of incorporation (MOI) allows for councillors (mayoral committee members) to be part of the board representing the council and ultimately us, as residents.
This is meant to strengthen accountability and transparency on both the MBDA and the council.
Voges was on a month-to-month contract which can be terminated any time, provided a one month’s notice is served. This means he doesn’t qualify for a handshake or a pay-out because he didn’t have a long-term contract with the MBDA, therefore the contract wasn’t terminated before it expired.
Members of the board are supposed to play an oversight role over the administration at the MBDA. but in this instance they were involved in wrongdoing by encouraging unsound financial management while the MBDA won so many awards for its financial performance.
This contradiction will lead to an audit query and discourage investors.
I would like to advise the council which represents me to take the following steps:
- Dissolve the MBDA board;
- Charge the board for failing in its fiduciary responsibility;
- Ask Voges to pay back the money.
The coalition governing our metro must walk the talk by being transparent and accountable, and sort out the issue of the city manager by swallowing their egos and apologising to Mettler because they dented his reputation.
Whatever document he signs stands to be challenged, because the MEC didn’t give concurrence to his appointment or the MEC must take the metro to court for disobedience.
Mayor, come clean and stop the secrecy around the reported golden handshake and re-advertise the post of the city manager.