Melissa Whitehead is not the first council employee to sit at home, twiddling her thumbs and enjoying all the perks of office, in addition to earning a monthly salary that could comfortably feed several families with some cash left over for a few luxuries. And I doubt if she will be the last.
I don’t remember all the details, so I checked Dr Google to jog my memory, and for once the “font of all knowledge” was correct.
At the time of the formation of the Unicity when the various municipalities in Cape Town were merged into one, Keith Nicol, the town clerk of Cape Town, was sacked, to put it bluntly, by the MEC for Local Government, now chief cheerleader for the ANC in the provincial legislature.
Nicol was getting in the region of R30 000 a month - his severance package was about R1 million and he was entitled to receive salary increases, leave pay, one month’s salary instead of notice and a 13th cheque, according to the IOL website. There was an additional three-month payout to enable him to get his pension benefits. He could also remain a member of the municipal medical aid scheme, and that’s a real bonus.
As I recall, Nicol stayed home for three years. Nicol rejected other positions offered to him by the City and opted for court. Justice Selwyn Selikowitz ruled in favour of Nicol and the MEC was ordered to pay costs.
ANC activist Andrew Boraine took over the hot seat in 1997, but his tenure was short-lived: he was also booted out when the DA won the Unicity, but then the tables were reversed when “Kortbroek” Van Schalkwyk crossed the floor with his New National Party to the ANC. He was rewarded for his efforts and appointed tourism minister.
Now the DA is in a mess, mostly of its own making. If politics had not been introduced and the electorate had been able to vote for the best candidate and held them accountable I doubt if any of the machinations would have been possible.
* Brian Joss, Milnerton.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.