Anger over Ugu’s ‘golden handshake’
DURBAN - THE decision by the Ugu District Municipality to terminate the employment of its municipal manager has come under fire from opposition parties, who said the move undermined accountability and was a waste of council resources.
The parties said while they were happy to see Dhanpalan Naidoo leave, they did not agree with the way the municipality had handled the matter.
The municipality announced at the weekend that it had finally concluded disciplinary proceedings against Naidoo.
Naidoo had been on special leave for a few months following an investigation by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs into the affairs of the municipality.
The investigation report had raised several allegations against Naidoo, including that he had funnelled municipal contracts to relatives.
Naidoo had vehemently denied all the allegations against him.
The municipality said it had reached an amicable settlement with Naidoo in terms of which he would receive the equivalent of six months’ salary and he would part ways with the municipality with immediate effect.
But opposition parties said the payment equated to a “golden handshake” that only served to drain much-needed resources from the municipality, which was struggling to deliver basic services like water to its residents.
Naidoo, they argued, had been facing a disciplinary process and should have left after the finalisation of that process or resigned of his own volition without being enticed with payments.
The municipality said the settlement with Naidoo would allow for more stability in the council.
“This will go a long way towards instilling stability in the administration and in ensuring that the municipality directs its efforts and financial resources towards fulfilling its service delivery obligations.
“The municipality will continue to institute consequence management proceedings for members of staff implicated in the section 106 investigation report.
“In the interest of instilling stability in the municipality, the leadership of the municipality will now be seeking to expedite the process of making a suitable appointment to the position of municipal manager,” it said in a statement.
IFP member Sfundo Ngwane said it was concerning that Naidoo was leaving while the allegations against him were yet to be finalised.
“We are not happy that the municipality decided to pay him six months’ salary, this is money for work that he has not done.
“We paid him while he did no work as he sat at home as he was on special leave, and now this.
“We as the IFP are opposed to having an acting municipal manager in the meantime; there is Sbu Sithole who was brought in as a technical administrator – he should be doing the job until there is an appointment,” he said.
DA Ugu caucus leader Leonard Ngcobo said they were disappointed with how the matter was handled.
“There is no authority for the mayor to engage Naidoo on his exit; as far as we know, the disciplinary hearing was going ahead and the evidence leader and the presiding officer had been appointed.
“We believe that this decision will drain the coffers of the municipality,” he said.
Municipal spokesperson France Zama said there was nothing sinister about “parties in a dispute of any nature to reach a settlement, therefore those assertions from the DA are just mischievous and we shall not give credence to such”.
Attempts to reach Naidoo were unsuccessful yesterday. Last year, Naidoo denied the allegations when he spoke to The Mercury.
He said at the time that among the allegations was that “I was accused of fraud and corruption; the first accusation is that I have a son-in-law that owns a tyre company that gets all the municipal business, but I don’t have a son-in-law and I have no interest in a tyre business”.