Sithole’s shake-up irks managers

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NM_sithole0 INLSA Durban city manager Sbu Sithole.

Durban - Cracks are appearing in the eThekwini municipality’s top management as senior managers voiced their discontent over city manager S’bu Sithole’s restructuring plan and transformation drive.

Sithole met senior management including heads of departments, deputy heads and deputy city managers at the council chamber at city hall on Monday to brief them on the new organogram.

Some of the new posts Sithole has created include an administration manager in his office, a head in mayor James Nxumalo’s office and three department heads who are to deal with sustainability, area-based management and transformation. Another position is deputy city treasurer, who will have the title of chief operations officer.

Sithole said last week that the motivation behind the restructuring was to better use existing resources, streamline all departments and improve service.

Speaking about restructuring in the treasury unit, in particular, Sithole said the chief operations officer was needed to ensure proper succession planning and drive transformation in the treasury unit.

Some senior managers, who have been working in the municipality for more than a decade and have been through previous restructuring processes, said there had been a lack of consultation and Sithole had adopted a “top-down approach”.

“There was no communication with senior management in formulating the structure. There are a lot of experienced people in the organi- sation and their input could have added value to the preparation and compilation of the new organogram,” a senior official said.

Others felt that Sithole should have done away with the seven deputy city managers who, apart from adding more red tape, raked in an annual wage bill of over R13 million. But some said that having that many deputy city managers was important for an organisation that employed more than 23 000 people.

“The deputy city managers have their advantages. You cannot have 33 units reporting to the city manager directly. Sithole now has an opportunity to bring people in with the requisite skills. That will be a challenge and hopefully it will not be political appointees,” another top manager said.

Sithole said he would begin a consultation process with unions and officials who had been directly affected by the new changes.

In 2002, when former municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe presented his organogram, there was a high level of uncertainty among senior managers who had to reapply for their positions in terms of the new top jobs shake-up.

But that is not the case this time around and Sithole assured officials that no retrenchments were on the cards.

Opposition parties have criticised Sithole’s organogram, saying it would cost ratepayers millions, and there was no budget to pay the salaries of about eight new managers. - Ther Mercury


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