File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters

East London - Embattled Enoch Mgijima municipal manager Chris Magwangqana is challenging what he calls "unlawful suspension" by the municipal council. 

The municipality decided to suspend Magwangqana last Friday through a special council meeting over allegations he misappropriated funds, neglected his duties and misled the council on its financial position, liabilities and assets.

It accused him of diverting money meant for salaries and service delivery to pay for other services including Eskom debt and of failing to instruct attorneys to defend the municipality against service providers who took it to court to attach its property over debt.

Magwangqana insists his suspension was taken at an unlawful council meeting.

"The council issued a notice for a special meeting a day before the meeting was held, our council rules say you can call for a special meeting in 48 hours," he said, accusing the council of not adhering to disciplinary action rules for senior managers.

"They are supposed to give me seven days and I responded on that say day requesting for further information based on those allegations against me," he added.

Enoch Mgijima, one of the most struggling local municipalities in Eastern Cape province, was formed through the amalgamation of three municipalities ahead of 2016 local government elections and was placed under administration last month in a bid to turn around its finances. 

It was forced to sell 44 municipal vehicles at an auction following a high court ruling of execution to attach R58 million worth of assets to pay its debt.

The municipality has experienced regular water and electricity outages due to lack of funds for maintenance.

The Auditor-General reported over R1 billion in irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure which the council tried to write off early this year.

African News Agency/ANA