Acting city boss absent as Mpac meeting collapses

The City Hall in Port Elizabeth
The City Hall in Port Elizabeth
Image: Werner Hills

Hold off on all public accounts committee meetings until the Nelson Mandela Bay council sits and addresses legal concerns about acting city boss Nobuntu Mpongwana’s appointment.

This was the advice Mpac chair Pinky Tshanga said she had received from the national department of co-operative governance & traditional affairs on Wednesday, an hour before the meeting was meant to sit.

Mpongwana did not turn up for the meeting, prompting the Mpac to adjourn the sitting for a second consecutive day.

“Based on what happened in the meeting yesterday [Tuesday, when parties argued over the legitimacy of Mpongwana's appointment] I took it upon myself and I consulted national Cogta, and they advised me this morning [Wednesday].

“Cogta doesn’t agree that we sit with this meeting based on the legality of the appointment of the acting city manager.

“We had advice that until I get something that proves that the rights steps were taken to appoint the acting city manager [we don’t sit].

“We are not sure as Mpac if all the executive directors were approached for the seat of city manager.

“And, also if all the ED’s refused to take the seat, it was supposed to be directors.

“Ms Mpongwana is a junior and that’s the advice I got from Cogta.

“I think we need to postpone this meeting until all is rectified.

“I’m going to take it upon myself to do further investigations through the office of the mayor, through the office the speaker and I will also ask national Cogta to give me something in writing about why Mpac can’t sit,” Tshanga said.

Mpongwana is a deputy director in the legal services department who was parachuted three levels up to the city manager’s office by mayor Mongameli Bobani.

ANC councillor Mvuzo Mbelekane said what Tshanga was raising was not on the agenda and should not be entertained.

“If you adjourn the meeting because of any advice that is not in writing that would be wrong.

“No committee can stop doing its business based on advice that’s vague,” Mbelekane said

The Mpac meeting, which was meant to start at 10am, began 30 minutes later, with Mpongwana missing from where she was meant to sit.

Tshanga said she had not received an apology from the acting municipal manager’s office.

Mbelekane proposed that someone call Mpongwana from her office, but Tshanga refused.

“Even if the advice is rogue, according to you, we do not have an acting city manager sitting here, therefore the meeting can’t continue.

“Yesterday [Tuesday], before we left, I asked her if she would be available and she said yes.

“When we started this meeting at 10am she wasn’t here; when we came back at 10.30am she wasn't here.

“It’s now 10.45am and she’s still not here,” Tshanga said

ACDP councillor Lance Grootboom tabled a motion of exigency for the Mpac to seek legal advice on Mpongwana’s appointment and for the meeting to reconvene on Friday.

In his motion, Grootboom said: “When an appointment is irregular, every decision taken thereafter is null and void.

“It’s important for the institution to get an opinion in order to support her appointment whether it has legal standing or not.”

Cogta national spokesperson Lungi Mtshali said he would call Eastern Cape MEC Xolile Nqatha to find out if he was aware of the alleged instruction from national Cogta.

He did not respond to calls and text messages later on Wednesday.

Cogta head of communications Legadima Leso also did not respond to calls or texts.

Attempts to reach Mpongwana for comment were unsuccessful.