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A number of wrong insinuations and conclusions are being drawn by the media reports, more especially The Mercury of July 3, implying that certain in-dividuals are being “purged” because of their alleged association with the former city manager, Michael Sutcliffe, and former police commissioner, General Bheki Cele.
For anyone to suggest that some of the events and actions that have been implemented in the municipality in the recent past are related to a form of “purging” are both wrong and unfounded.
The facts in this matter are simple. It is important to point out that the incumbent city manager joined the municipality in January 2012 and had no role in the commissioning of either the Ngubane or Manase reports. As part of our duty we are obliged to implement the recommendations of the Manase report and council resolutions without fear or favour.
There is no doubt that certain actions had to be taken. By the way, you are doomed if you don’t act or implement the recommendations. It is therefore surprising that certain people who have been calling for action to be taken are now turning around to suggest that there is a “purge”.
In every case pertaining to people implicated in the Manase report or any other matters, we have always acted based on the facts.
On the issue regarding former deputy city managers, Derek Naidoo and Bheki Mkhize, it is a fact that their contracts had expired and the municipality exercised its right not to renew them.
It is an accepted practice in any organisation that people come and go for a variety of reasons, be it through retirement, looking for greener pastures, disciplinary reasons or contracts expiring. This does not point to any purging. It is also misleading to pre- suppose that any person who may leave the organisation may have high levels of skills or that they will leave a void in their positions.
Regarding the issue of my relationship with General Cele and Dr Sutcliffe, I wish people to understand that we will not allow ourselves to be distracted by side-issues. I have a long history with both gentlemen and from time to time people would have differences, which is normal in life. People who hide behind my relationship with Cele and Sutcliffe are being mischievous and want to drive a wedge between myself and them.
I have said before that I do admire the work that had been done by my predecessor and we will emulate what he has done correctly, and undo what I think has brought the municipality a bad name.
We want to reiterate that there is no crisis in the municipality’s administration. Where there are vacancies, we will carefully appoint people to those positions. Shortly the municipality will be finalising a new organisational structure and we will be advertising all strategic vacancies within a period of two weeks.
Our aim is to ensure that before the end of December 2012 we will have all necessary people in place. And it is our plan to look critically at succession planning, especially with regard to those reaching retirement age in a sense of retaining institutional memory and ensuring continuity of service.
It is our belief that people who are peddling negative information are hell-bent on defocusing us from addressing issues of service delivery backlogs, poverty, unemployment and inequality.
We also want to reassure eThekwini citizens that the city remains stable and we have taken steps to ensure that there is continuity, as well as correcting things that may not have gone right. We will take whatever action necessary to restore the confidence of our citizens in the municipality.
* Sibusiso Sithole is the eThekwini city manager.