The eThekwini municipal manager, Sipho Nzuza, says high profile resignations, retirements, suspensions and dismissals that have rocked the city in the past few weeks have left him “feeling concerned”.
Nzuza said those leaving were senior people who it would be difficult to replace.
“The burden of replacing them falls on me as most senior person in the municipality.”
Nzuza has been in the job for only three months.
Deputy city manager for Community and Emergency Services Musa Gumede is leaving at the end of the month to take up a position in the provincial Department of Health and head of metro police Eugene Nzama has asked for early retirement.
Head of Parks Thembinkosi Ngcobo was suspended in relation to the fiasco over a social cohesion conference that was cancelled at the last minute at great cost to the city.
“You cannot take decisions with acting people and replacing such senior people is very difficult.
“It is a lengthy process that you need approval for and you cannot just do it on your own.
“And finding such experienced people is very difficult.
“It is concerning that we are losing such senior people.
“I have spoken to them asking them to stay, but their minds were already made up,” he said.
Speaking about Ngcobo’s suspension, Nzuza said, “There were things that he was supposed to do that he did not, so an investigation is being conducted.”
Nzuza said the challenges would, however, not deter the city from its work. “I would be especially concerned if these people were leaving because of my management style but I have just arrived here.”
Attempts to reach Nzama and Ngcobo for comment were unsuccessful.
The news of Nzama’s departure was received with joy by some unit members, who said stability would return to the metro police. The Daily News reported that Nzama was in line for a R10 million payout if he left.
“His issues started long ago under the term of Mike Sutcliffe and then mayor Obed Mlaba, then Sbu Sithole inherited them,” said one member, who declined to be named.
“There were reports compiled and efforts to stabilise the unit, but nothing worked.”
Mthunzi Gumede, eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede’s spokesperson, said: “It’s not nice for us that we have lost talented people but we wish them well. We are grateful for the contribution they made and hope where they go they will represent us well.”
IFP leader Mdu Nkosi said the party was concerned.
“People are leaving and we do not know why,” he said.
“One of the problems is cadre deployment. People who are activists in the ANC are deployed to the municipality as managers and when new leadership comes in they are forced out. This could collapse the municipality.”
DA leader Zwakele Mncwango said he felt sorry for Nzuza.
“To lose someone of Gumede’s calibre is a blow, he would have been a pillar of strength for the city manager.”
He said Nzuza was becoming a victim of internal ANC factions.
“The mayor needs to do serious introspection on how this municipality is running because at this rate, this municipality will collapse,” he said.
Mthunzi Gumede said they would not politicise issues that were not political.
Others who have left recently include Sandile Maphumulo, head of electricity; Nokhana Moerane, head of legal services, who resigned; and Dr Nomakhosi Gxagxisa, head of health, who was suspended amid allegations of wrongdoing.