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Fired Mgoqi turns up for work

Published Apr 11, 2006

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By Bulelani Phillip, Henri du Plessis & Sarah Lockwood

Axed Cape Town city manager Wallace Mgoqi strode into his fifth-floor office at the Civic Centre on Tuesday in open defiance of a council decision on Monday to revoke his extended contract and end his term as the city's top official.

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But at a meeting on Tuesday between mayor Helen Zille and the council's Ikhwezi top management team, there was no sign of Mgoqi - instead, acting city manager Achmad Ebrahim presided over the meeting.

The battle between Mgoqi and his employers is about to go to court, where he will bid to have the council decision overturned.

The latest drama appears to have ignited simmering tensions within the council. Zille on Tuesday launched a blistering attack on ANC-aligned senior officials - led by Mgoqi - whom she accuses of trying to sabotage the work of "a democratically elected city government".

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In a sharply worded statement sent to the Cape Argus, Zille said senior officials were attempting to "make the city ungovernable".

The ANC was unable to accept the fact that it had lost the local government election and that a multiparty government was now in power, she said.

At the same time as Zille launched her broadside, Mgoqi was reporting for duty.

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"I have rights in law," he said as he stepped through the doors of his executive office at about 7.30am.

"The decision taken yesterday was clearly made in a meeting with no legal basis. I have no intention of obeying it (and) I will continue to come to work."

Robert McDonald, the spokesperson for Zille, said Mgoqi had not been barred from attending Tuesday's meeting, but he had not pitched up.

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Asked whether the council would have prevented him from attending, McDonald responded that Mgoqi "won't be stopped, but he's not attending them (meetings)".

"He only found out yesterday that he was not the city manager so we must give him time (to vacate his office). It's only reasonable," he said.

It would also take time to remove Mgoqi from the city system, which enables him to have an access card and email contact. It remains unclear how much time will be afforded to Mgoqi to vacate his office.

On Monday Zille issued a statement after a full council meeting saying: "(The) council has revoked former mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo's decision to extend city manager Dr Wallace Mgoqi's contract for a year."

Mgoqi's legal adviser, Clem Druker, said the issue of the validity of his contract could only be decided upon by a judge. A Cape High Court application to have Tuesday's closed council meeting and all decisions taken declared null and void would be heard on May 9.

Zille, in her statement, pointed a finger at Mgoqi and said senior officials were continuing to take instructions from the ANC and ID - ignoring the fact that the two parties had lost the election.

Zille accused Mgoqi and the executive director of finance, Ike Nxedlana, of trying to make the city ungovernable.

Nxedlana said on Monday that he would refuse to hold tender meetings that were open to the public, as decided by the mayoral committee recently.

"He (Nxedlana) was at the Mayco meeting at which this was discussed and decided, so he should know what is expected," Zille said.

She said the incident was part of a disturbing pattern.

"It is at least the third time senior officials appointed by the ANC have refused to implement requests and decisions of the multiparty government.

"There is a fundamental principle at stake here. Some ANC-aligned officials are simply refusing to accept that the ANC lost the election and that a multiparty government is now in power.

"These officials, actively encouraged by Dr Wallace Mgoqi, continue to implement ANC policy, mostly in secret."

Zille said some past tender irregularities, including corruption, were a direct result of secret meetings presided over by officials who "see their first allegiance to their party, (and) not to the state or the democratic choice of the people they are supposed to serve.

"We are trying to shine some light in these dark places and, unsurprisingly, we are being prevented from doing so."

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