Cape Town - ANC councillors are up in arms at Drakenstein mayor Conrad Poole’s (DA) attempts to get Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to waive retirement for the council’s 65-year-old municipal manager, Johan Leibbrandt.
Leibbrandt was appointed as municipal manager on a five-year fixed term contract of employment beginning on March 1, 2017. His contract ended on December 1, 2021, the first calendar day of the month following his 65th birthday.
Last year in the run-up to the local government elections, the mayor wrote to Dlamini Zuma, requesting that the contract may be extended by three months to February 28, 2022, to enable Leibbrandt to serve a full five-year statutory term of employment.
Dlamini Zuma agreed to the extension but told Poole that once the five-year period had elapsed, the post would become vacant, and the municipality would have to embark on a nationally competitive process to fill the post.
In November last year, Poole again wrote to request a further three-month extension and waiver to May 31, 2022, but Dlamini Zuma rejected the request.
Leader of the opposition ANC in the council, Moutie Richards, said that despite this rejection by the minister, the Mayco went ahead and appointed Leibbrandt for another five-year term, saying that he had scarce skills.
Richards said: “They are fighting this thing and they want the minister to rescind the decision. The mayor never consulted us and he never called us in, except for one time, which was just basically to tell us that they'd already made the decision.”
Reached for comment, mayor Poole said that when Leibbrandt’s first five-year term as city manager came to an end, the position was advertised nationally.
He said the municipality received 18 applications from the national advert and only five candidates qualified, among them Leibbrandt, who reapplied.
“The panel and expert recruitment consultants agreed that he was the best candidate for the job and the appointment was unanimously approved by the Drakenstein Municipal Council on November 30, 2021 for a further five-year term.”
He said they were hopeful that the minister would reconsider the waiver because a municipal manager who consistently maintains high service delivery and financial management standards indeed illustrates scarce skills.
“Local government is in trouble. We can ill afford to lose competent professionals with a track record of excellent service delivery, and sound financial and corporate governance.”