Suspended NMB official back and in hot seat

Tolom, who was accused circumventing tender processes, appointed acting executive director of public health

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After being on suspension for nearly two years, public health official Andile Tolom was already responding to questions around the cleanliness of the city at the municipal public accounts committee (Mpac) meeting on Thursday.
Tolom’s suspension was not only lifted after a lengthy February 28 council meeting, he was also appointed acting executive director in one of the city’s beleaguered departments – public health.
He replaces waste management director Tsietsi Mokonenyane, who has been acting in the position since 2017.
Meanwhile, revenue management and customer care director Mbuzeli Nogqala was also appointed acting executive director for human resources and corporate services.
Tolom’s return to work went against recommendations made by third party attorneys to acting city manager Peter Neilson.
Tolom, along with three other public health officials, was implicated in the Milongani Eco-Consulting forensic report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
They were accused of fraud, collusion and tender rigging, while Tolom was accused of circumventing the normal tender processes.
The review committee had resolved that Tolom should remain on suspension and that the municipality should proceed with disciplinary action against him and the others on suspension.
But the majority of councillors at the February 28 meeting ignored this and decided that he should return to work instead.
At Thursday’s meeting, Tolom confirmed he had returned to work on Monday, before referring questions to Neilson.
Neilson said Tolom had been appointed public health executive director because he was competent.
“He was previously ED [executive director] for public health – the executive mayor and the MMC felt that he was the right person to act and get back all the challenges that the department is facing under control.
“They [council] believe he is competent to do so bearing in mind that what happened with the current disciplinary matter has nothing to do with it as there is nothing being held against him at this stage.
|[Any outstanding disciplinary matter that] should take its course will still take its course,” Neilson said.
At the meeting, Tolom responded to questions related to the municipality’s performance scorecard on allocating budget for the upgrade of beaches in Summerstrand.
Explaining why there had been underspending on the upgrading of beaches, Tolom said there had been funds allocated for upgrading Kings and Hobie beaches but these were later diverted.
“During service delivery discussions there were complaints that the focus of funds was directed to ‘advantaged areas’.
“A diversion was made to make sure that money was available for upgrading Wells Estate beach,” Tolom said.
Also commenting on performance with regards to public open spaces, Tolom said: “We still have a challenge of people illegally dumping – whenever we have money we prioritise this so that people will not illegally dump in those areas,” he said.
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani said Tolom’s appointment had been made by Neilson.
“The acting city manager is the one that has made the appointment – I would never intervene in matters of administration.”

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