WHILE former Enoch Mgijima municipal manager Nolwandle Gqiba has moved on to a new job in Port Elizabeth, councillors this week were not satisfied with her interim replacement.
In addition a legal letter, in possession of The Rep, which was tabled in the in-committee session, raised concern that the municipality had intended to end Gqiba’s contract three months before it expired.
In a special council meeting last Tuesday, several councillors indicated they did not want former long-serving Tsolwana municipal manager (MM) Smilo Dayi to act as the MM.
An hour after the scheduled start of the meeting, councillors continued to debate whether Dayi was the right person to read the notice convening the meeting.
Some ANC councillors, including mayor Lindiwe Gunuza Nkwentsha, said the mayor had the power, with the mayoral committee, to appoint an acting MM and the decision had to be ratified by council.
In an unprecedented move, speaker Mzoxolo Peter opposed this, saying Gunuza Nkwentsha did not have the power to appoint an acting MM. Corporate services political head Noluthando Nqabisa said Gunuza Nkwentsha had no intention of undermining council but there was an issue with the interpretation of the clauses used to appoint Dayi.
Dayi’s appointment followed the resignation with immediate effect of Gqiba in January. She has since joined Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality as the human settlements and spatial planning executive director.
Prior to the sitting on Tuesday, the in-committee session was held, with the media and members of the public asked to leave the venue.
In this session, a copy of the letter from Gqiba, written by legal representatives Wheeldon, Rushmere & Cole Inc via attorney Brin Brody, was tabled. The letter expressed surprise that Enoch Mgijima had indicated to Gqiba in a letter on December 15 that her position in the municipality was not safe and that the position of MM had been advertised.
The letter says Gqiba was surprised the municipality had seen fit to indicate in its letter it “intends appointing a new municipal manager by March 2017 when her present contract of employment indicates that she is employed until the end of June 2017”.
The lawyers then informed the municipality that Gqiba was resigning “with immediate effect arising out of your letter and the manner in which she has been treated in regard to this appointment and the purpose of this letter is to confirm her resignation with immediate effect”.
Responding to e-mailed questions, Enoch Mgijima communications manager Fundile Feketshane said council wished “to put things into the proper perspective” when referring to the former MM.
“She was employed by the former Lukhanji Municipality as the municipal manager and the contract was effective from 1 July 2015 until 30 June 2017. An amalgamation of the former municipality took place and Enoch Mgijima was therefore born. In terms of the section 12 notice a new municipality has to appoint an interim municipal manager and she was chosen from the 19th August 2016 until the 24th February 2017.”
This meant that her earlier contract, which had been transferred to Enoch Mgijima, was still in force and effective until June 2017 “but unfortunately she resigned with effect from 13th January 2017”.
“The council is now in a process of filling the vacancy of the municipal manager as the head of administration and accounting officer who shall steer the administration to meet the institutional programmes.
“We also want to wish our former interim municipal manager well in her endeavours in her career.”