MEC gets legal advice on Mettler appointment

MEC Fikile Xasa
Picture: Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature

Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance MEC Fikile Xasa has turned to the state attorney for legal advice over the appointment of Nelson Mandela Bay city manager Johann Mettler.

Xasa is looking for a way forward in the impasse with the metro over the way Mettler was hired, which he believes transgressed the Municipal Systems Act.

Mettler was appointed in December, but Xasa did not concur with his appointment, citing issues of non-compliance.

Xasa said the panel that interviewed Mettler failed to meet the requirements of Regulation 12 (3) of the Municipal Systems Act.

Xasa singled out the presence of corporate services head Vuyo Zitumane on the panel and said it was improper for her to interview someone senior to her and to whom she would be reporting.

He also said the number of councillors on the panel exceeded what the act required.

But Bay mayor Athol Trollip maintained that everything was above board and the law had been followed to the letter.

Last week, Cooperative Governance spokesman Mamkeli Ngam said Xasa still stood by his view that Mettler’s appointment was invalid.

He said: “MEC Xasa has referred the matter to the state attorney for legal advice on how to proceed.”

Trollip’s chief of staff, Kristoff Adelbert, said: “It would be unprocedural and absurd if the MEC would go behind the backs of the municipality to our legal department and then brief the state attorney.”

He said Xasa no longer had the mandate on this matter. “The act is clear on this. “The MEC must get a clarity order from a judge or magistrate within two weeks, failing which it becomes the responsibility of the Cooperative Governance Minister,” Adelbert said.

“We maintain that the appointment of Johann Mettler was 100% compliant and entirely in line with the law,” he said.

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