Durban - The eThekwini municipality’s top structure is to be reorganised again – this time to suit the needs of new city boss S’bu Sithole. The changes are a radical shift from the organisation created by Michael Sutcliffe in his 10 years as city manager.
Eight new top posts are to be created and, according to estimates based on the municipality’s June 2010 salaries and allowances structure, they are to cost ratepayers another R7 million a year.
Opposition groups say Sithole has done nothing more than create an extra layer of bureaucracy and continue a culture of cadre deployment.
The new bosses, to be answerable directly to Sithole
The controversial safety and security cluster has been scrapped and its functions handed to the health and social services cluster. This has been renamed the community services cluster.
Sithole also wants an economic development and investment council to drive job-creation and entrepreneurship development. A city planning commission to spearhead and align economic growth and development strategies in the city is also to be created.
On Wednesday, mayor James Nxumalo said the new framework had been approved by the council “in principle”.
“When Michael Sutcliffe joined the city 10 years ago he was given an opportunity to make his own changes. Mike played his role, now the new city manager has to make his changes.”
Sithole said there were many elements of the current structure that worked, but his vision was to streamline all departments.
There were staff members in the municipality who called themselves “project managers” but added no value and some were placed in departments where their skills were not used, he said.
“If you have the right systems in place and have qualified project managers you will deliver services to the people faster… no retrenchments are contemplated (with) the proposed changes,” he said.
Asked how much all these changes would cost, Sithole refused to give details.
More than R6 billion is earmarked for salaries, allowances and salary increases in eThekwini for the 2012/13 financial year.
Sithole’s ambitious new structure has been criticised by the opposition, who say it’s more red tape.
DA caucus leader Tex Collins questioned Sithole’s rationale for adding heads of department, saying the city did not have the budget to pay more managers’ salaries.
“We asked him who on earth would cover the costs of all the new people. But he did not give us a response… He has given us a skeleton structure and wants us to implement it by January. But who is going to fund it?” Collins said.
The new organogram was “nothing more than a thinly disguised veil for cadre deployment”.
“The city manager has lost the plot,” Collins said.
“I would have scaled down this hugely inflated structure, restructured the housing unit and other critical departments instead of employing additional staff that you don’t need.”
Minority Front councillor Patrick Pillay said Sithole should have consulted unions, ratepayers and businesses before making such radical changes.
“The appointment of managers must not be based on affirmative action but on skill and merit. We would have liked the structure to be scaled down because there is no budget for new posts,” he said.
Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union regional manager Themba Shezi said Sithole’s organogram affected only employees who reported directly to him.
The municipality employed more than 20 000 people. It made sense to have many managers “to spread the reporting lines”.
“We will look at the organogram when it is tabled and we will get involved only if it affects our members,” Shezi said. - The Mercury