Msunduzi Municipality mayor Themba Njilo says the legal opinion they have sought says the process to appoint a new municipal manager can go ahead. Picture: Archives

THE DA in the Msunduzi municipality has threatened legal action against the beleaguered Pietermaritzburg-based municipality as it seeks to stop the process of appointing the municipal manager. 
 
The opposition party wanted the municipality to appoint a suitable and qualified  municipal manager.
 
Jerome Majola, DA caucus leader in the Pietermaritzburg council, said he had already sought permission to pursue legal action from the party’s provincial leaders.
 
The DA legal challenge is aimed at putting the brakes on the “illegal” process of appointing the municipal manager. It has argued that the long delays in the process allegedly contravene the time frames governing such appointments. 
 
The party wanted the process to be restarted, the post re-advertised and the process to be completed within three months as stipulated in the the local government regulations. 
 
Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo said the process was continuing as there had been an agreement in the council and time frames had been set. They expected to start interviews this week. 
 
The municipality has been without a municipal manager for the past year. Former municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi was suspended in March last year. His contract expired in December and the council opted not to renew it. Acting city manager Sizwe Hadebe was appointed around June last year. 
 
Hadebe has a cloud hanging over him following allegations of financial wrongdoing at his previous job.
 
“This process should have been completed in April; acting MM Hadebe has been in that position for more than year, which is against the law,” said Majola. “The position of MM was advertised in December last year. “By law, there process has about 90 days to be completed. This includes forming a selection panel, the selection process, the interviews, the screening and appointment. 
 
“Instead, the forming of a selection panel, was only concluded around September.”
 
Majola said that after the DA demanded in the council that the process be started over, the municipality sought outside legal opinion that stated the process can continue.
 
IFP councillor Thinasonke Ntombela said they had also demanded that the process be scrapped. “We wanted this process to be started over but the municipality brought outside counsel who told us the process should continue. We did not understand how that could be allowed because that will be against the regulations. This issue went down to a vote and we (opposition parties) lost.”
 
Njilo said legal opinion stated the process can continue. “The fear among opposition parties is that ‘someone’ will be given an advantage.
 
“They have already demanded a report from me about the current municipality manager. No one will have  an advantage. This process should be completed by the end of November.”