Durban - Key positions at executive-management level in the eThekwini Municipality are likely to be filled only in November, almost a year after they became vacant.
The position of head of the metro police and deputy city manager (DCM) for economic development (Ecod) have been vacant for at least eight months.
Former head of metro police Steve Middleton retired in January this year and deputy head Sbonelo Mchunu has been acting in that post since then. Mchunu is also considered a front runner to fill the vacancy.
The Ecod head position has been vacant since December 31. The contract for the then head Phillip Sithole expired at the end of last year, and since then the unit has been led by an acting DCM.
The position of DCM for Human Settlements is also vacant, with the Head of eThekwini Transport Authority Thami Manyathi currently acting in that post.
This situation, the councillors in the metro have warned, creates instability as those acting in those positions are not able to make long-term plans.
Gugu Sisilana, spokesperson for the municipality, said the City had ensured that business continuity and service delivery were not hampered while critical posts were being filled.
She said the process of filling the position of head of metro police was at interview stage and the shortlisting of candidates had been finalised.
She added that the filling of the positions of DCM for Ecod and DCM for Human Settlements, Engineering and the eThekwini Transport Authority has been temporary delayed as the City organisational structure was being reviewed.
“There are acting DCMs in the interim to ensure that municipal projects and programmes are implemented while the recruitment process is being finished. The recruitment process may be finalised in November 2023, provided that the Institutional Organisational structure review project is finalised earlier than that,” she said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the posts should be filled as a matter of urgency.
“It puts the municipality in a bad light when you find that there are reports that are coming from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs that point out that there are vacancies in the municipality.
“Having someone acting in a post does not create stability because a person whose acting does not have strong authority on a matter because they know they are there for that short period, whereas if you have a permanent head there would be proper planning. These posts, as far as I know, have been advertised.”
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said the vacancies pointed to what was wrong with the City’s administration.
“It is extremely worrying that such vacancies at a senior level of the municipality are not filled. A municipality of this size can’t function with people who are acting. Again, the city manager must account for this because it has a negative impact on service delivery.”
Alan Beesley, of ActionSA, said: “We believe questions need to be asked about why these critical posts are taking so long to fill. Is it a case of the ANC-led municipality waiting for the right opportunity to fill these posts in line with their cadre deployment?
“Service levels in the City are at an all-time low. The delay in filling these critical posts is further compounding the low level of service delivery experienced by the City’s residents and businesses,” he said.
Democratic Liberal Congress (DLC) Leader Patrick Pillay said that the failure by the City to fill critical senior positions was one of the primary reasons for poor service delivery.
“The DLC calls on the City manager to ensure that these positions are filled with the right people whose key focus must be on service delivery.”