KZN government in ConCourt bid to reverse appointments of IFP-led municipality bosses
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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka is heading to the Constitutional Court on Tuesday to overturn the appointments of two “inexperienced” municipal managers.
Hlomuka wants the apex court to declare the appointments of Nkandla municipal manager Langelihle Jili and his Mthonjaneni counterpart Philani Sibiya null and void with immediate effect.
The appointments of Jili and Sibiya were declared invalid, null and void by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Piet Koen in February 2019, for failing to comply with the provisions of the Municipal Systems Act 2000 and its regulations.
Judge Koen set aside their appointments and ordered that the declaration of the appointments as invalid, null and void would not be retrospective but take effect from the day of his ruling.
Jili, Sibiya and the councils of both Inkatha Freedom Party-run municipalities approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which overturned Judge Koen’s ruling in September last year.
In his affidavit, KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance and traditional affairs department head Thandolwakhe Tubane told the Constitutional Court that the municipal managers were appointed illegally and that their appointments were prima facie null and void.
According to Tubane, the appointments are a matter of importance and great public interest that the department deals with frequently amid strong resistance from municipalities.
Jili’s appointment in 2017 was queried by Hlomuka’s predecessor Nomusa Dube-Ncube, who felt he did not have the required minimum of five years’ experience in senior management.
Dube-Ncube’s attempt to have the requirement for five years’ experience in senior management waived was declined by then cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Des van Rooyen.
Sibiya’s appointment in 2016 was also challenged by Dube-Ncube on the basis that he did not have the requisite experience before she approached the high court to have the decision to appoint both municipal manager reviewed and set aside in 2018.
In their written submissions, Jili and Sibiya argued they had occupied the position of municipal manager for over four years and the MEC had no case against their appointments besides relying on a section of the act which the Concourt had found to be unconstitutional.
The two municipal bosses and councils state Dube-Ncube took too long, between 20 and 31 days, to query the appointments when the law stipulated she should have taken steps with 14 days of the municipalities informing her.
“The delay in the present instance is compounded by a second and further manifestly unreasonable delay: the fact that the MEC further delayed unreasonably and, without explanation, perambulated in launching these proceedings,” read their submissions.
Dube-Ncube launched her challenge to Jili and Sibiya’s appointments after 15 and 18 months, respectively.
“In neither case does the MEC take issue with the competence of the appointed municipal managers. Nor are there any allegations of poor performance, incapacity or wrongdoing,” the municipal managers and council state.
In his submissions, Hlomuka insisted he has a constitutional duty and function of monitoring compliance with the provisions of the act by municipalities.