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Urgency to fill eThekwini Municipality manager post

Durban City Hall. Picture: Terry Haywood

Durban City Hall. Picture: Terry Haywood

Published May 12, 2022

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DURBAN - THE newly elected ANC leadership in the eThekwini region wants the position of the city manager filled by July.

Regional secretary Musa Nciki said filling the position was critical for the stability of the eThekwini Municipality.

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The municipality has been without a full-time boss for more than a year following the departure of Sipho Nzuza.

The attempts to fill the vacancy last month failed amid allegations of interference by the ANC. Max Mbili, municipal manager in the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, was the front runner and was apparently the candidate preferred by the ANC in the province.

The ANC and eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, who led the interview process, dismissed any allegations of interference by the ANC as untrue.

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Musa Mbhele is the acting municipal manager until the vacancy is filled.

Nciki said: “The process went to the council and the council rejected it and recommended that it be started afresh. We hope the council can have a quicker way of filling the vacancy in order to bring stability to the municipality.

“We have called a meeting with the leaders deployed by the ANC to the municipality either on Friday or the weekend to brief us on the way forward.

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“We also want to know how they will work with the opposition parties in the council to make sure that the process to appoint is successful.”

Nciki said the ANC relationship with its coalition partners was important for a successful appointment.

He said ideally they would want the appointment to be made “at the start of the new term, which is July”.

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Nciki added that as a region they had no preferred candidate but they wanted an individual who knew the job.

A source who is familiar with ANC internal processes said: “The ANC caucus in eThekwini is divided, the majority of the councillors are supporting Mbhele and they want to be given reasons as to why he (cannot be) appointed on a permanent basis as he has been there and his credentials are good.”

Local government expert Mike Sutcliffe, a former municipal manager of eThekwini, said the concerns about the stability of the municipality were wellfounded.

He said there was a relationship between instability and a vacuum at senior administration level, since if there were vacancies, or people acted for a month in a position, they sometimes did not take responsibility for that, which would leave the door open for corruption and other malfeasance.

DA councillor Nicole Graham said she expected that an interview panel should be formed this month.

“What we have said from the start is that we want representation on that panel to ensure that the process is fair.”

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said they were concerned that there had been no movement on the appointment of the city manager since the council resolved that the process should be started afresh.

EFF councillor Thabane Miya added that the process to appoint a city manager had taken a back seat as the council responded to the floods disaster.

“We want to be part of the selection process to make sure that there is transparency,” he said.

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