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eThekwini city manager seeks help

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The Mercury

Ethekwini city manager Sbu Sithole, who presented the citys final budget to the executive committee and department heads, said housing had the biggest budget to address the backlog. File photo: Sibusiso Ndlovu

Durban - City manager Sbusiso Sithole needs help.

He asked the eThekwini executive committee (Exco) on Tuesday to approve the creation of a chief operations officer in his office to take over some of his responsibilities so that he can concentrate on the “strategic, day-to-day operations of the municipality”.

In a report to Exco, Sithole said the COO would take over the city manager’s office support services, metro police, performance monitoring and evaluation, legal services and compliance and area-based management.

The job will have a R1.7 million pay package and a personal assistant.

Sithole said other cities had COOs.

“The COO would undertake all administration for the city manager’s office. For example, if a head of department applied for leave, I would no longer have to sign it as that function could be done by the COO,” he said.

Mayor James Nxumalo called the proposal “a very brilliant idea”, saying it would create capacity in the city manager’s office.

He was supported by the Minority Front’s Patrick Pillay, who gave the proposal the nod.

Heinz de Boer of the DA said there “was no doubt” such a position would help the city manager, but added that former city manager Mike Sutcliffe did not have a COO.

“Maybe that is why he was under the whip all the time,” he added.

De Boer said the person appointed should live up to the expectations of the city and urged the city manager to keep Exco informed on who the possible candidates might be.

Yesterday Sutcliffe said while it was not appropriate for him to talk about the city’s management, the responsibilities of direct reportees were quite onerous.

“How it gets arranged and how it gets done depends on the individual in that position. For me it will be about clarifying the roles in that office. There are lots of responsibilities a city manager has and he probably worked around how best to manage functions,” he said.

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