Outcry over plan to give performance bonuses to senior eThekwini managers
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SENIOR managers in eThekwini Municipality are in line to receive performance rewards for their “outstanding performance” in running the city in the past three years.
However, the decision has be slammed by opposition parties who described the move as irrational, saying the senior managers were under-performing in their respective roles.
Among those who are listed to be remunerated for their performance, is former city manager Sipho Nzuza who left the municipality earlier this year. Nzuza is facing corruption allegations alongside former mayor Zandile Gumede linked to the city’s multi-million rand DSW tender.
The report on the performance rewards was tabled before, and approved by the full council during a confidential meeting recently. The report scores the officials for their performance over three financial years, 2017-2018, 2018-19 and 2019-2020.
The names of those to benefit include individuals who no longer hold those portfolios who have either retired or changed positions. The list includes deputy city manager for Governance and International relations Sipho Cele, Krish Kumar (Finance), Phillip Sithole (Economic Development and Planning).
It lists Durban City Manager for Human Settlement, Engineering and Transport B Khanyile, chief operations officer T Mbele, DCM for corporate and HR D Nene and DCM for Trading services P Mashoko.
Recently the city approved performance rewards for close to 25 000 of its workers, and 5 000 of these had not received their performance appraisals. They were allocated a score which sparked concerns they had received undue rewards.
The report on the DCM’s rewards said local government regulations governing the performance regulations for municipal managers and managers directly accountable to the municipal manager, stipulates that a performance bonus based on affordability, may be paid to the employee, including as a reward for outstanding performance.
The report called on the council to consider the rewards on the basis of outstanding performance. The value for the financial rewards was not immediately clear.
With respect to Nzuza, it said the annual performance evaluation for 2017-18 financial year was undertaken on July 29, 2019. The evaluation for the following two years was listed as “not available“.
The news of the performance rewards drew condemnation from political parties who said it was undue, as the city was battling to deliver services.
Chris Pappas, DA spokesperson on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said that given the fiscal constraints being experienced by all South Africans, especially poor and middle income households, there should be no bonus paid for senior and upper management.
“Many businesses and organisations are suffering due to the prolonged lockdowns, collapsing municipalities, and bad economic policies. It is not fair that officials get bonuses while they continue to force residents to pay increasing rates and tariffs to cover these costs all while service delivery declines.
“One can understand when top performing lower level employees receive performance bonuses, but it is ridiculous that people who earn more than a million rand a year (plus other benefits) get more money while the city collapses,” he said.
IFP Cogta spokesperson Otto Kunene said it was surprising that the city would consider paying such bonuses. “The economic situation is quite bad, the municipality is embroiled in allegations of wrongdoing. What work have they done that is so fantastic and worthy of these bonuses?”
He said the city was struggling to provide the most basic of services and that was clear in the number of service delivery protests that were experienced regularly.
“There must be improvements in the quality of life of the residents and service delivery before we can say they deserve the bonuses,'' he said.
Responding to the comments that the bonuses were not deserved, Msawakhe Mayisela said opposition parties were entitled to their opinions. “We must also remember that it is the electioneering period and they will want to always criticise the municipality.”
He said the municipality was governed by legal prescripts and processes and the council was acting based on those prescripts.
“We will not wake up willy nilly and pay bonuses,” he said.
When asked about the payment of a performance bonus to Nzuza, Mayisela asked that the municipality be given space to deal with its internal issues.
“In as much as we understand that the issue of our former city manager is of public interest, the City hereby requests to be given space to finalise this matter with dignity, and in accordance with our policies and legal prescripts that govern human resources related matters. This is a matter that is between the employee and the employer. Once it has been dealt with, the City foresees no reason why it cannot take into confidence all stakeholders who are interested in this matter,” he said.