New Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani wants municipal manager Johann Mettler out. He told this newspaper there was an “irretrievable breakdown” in their relationship and for that reason he had prepared a suspension letter for the city boss.
Bobani further stated that Mettler had gone out of town and failed to inform the mayor. Two things are worth noting here. It has since emerged that Bobani had, in fact, approved Mettler’s trip on August 30.
Second, while Bobani earlier told us that upon receiving legal advice he believed he was well within his rights to suspend Mettler, he backtracked at a press conference yesterday.
On behalf of Bobani and the coalition government, chief whip Bicks Ndoni said they would follow the proper legal processes by taking the matter to the council, should there be a need to act against Mettler.
Ndoni said: “It would be misleading to suggest that one day a mayor can wake up and say that you are fired. It’s a matter that should be processed through council.
“In South Africa, generally, people are protected by law in terms of their contracts. At this stage we have a municipal manager who is still working in this municipality and if anything, the council meeting will deal with that matter.”
Ndoni stepping in to remind Bobani that there are laws that have to be adhered to may be too little too late to shield the metro from being potentially compromised, legally, should there be a case to answer further down the line.
Regardless of Bobani’s reasons for wanting Mettler out, he has no option but to follow the rules of the republic. As a city, we have been down this road before.
It is ultimately the citizens of this city who suffer the consequences of an unstable administration.
Irrespective of where each of us stands on this fight, we must all be concerned about what potentially lies ahead of us when rules are flouted with impunity.