Municipal manager reinstated after "precautionary suspension"
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DURBAN: A MUNICIPAL manager has been placed on “precautionary suspension” because the entity he worked for incurred over R31 million irregular expenditure, but this week a court ordered for his reinstatement.
Musawenkosi Hadebe, municipal manager of Ndwedwe Local Municipality in the iLembe District of KwaZulu-Natal, was blamed for the irregular expenditure and other accounting shortcomings that were red-flagged by the Auditor-General in November.
On March 4, Ndwedwe mayor Nkosinathi Vincent Chili effected Hadebe’s precautionary suspension, which was outlined in a letter.
Hadebe challenged the move, and the matter was heard as an “urgent” application by Durban Labour Court Judge Hamilton Cele on Tuesday.
Chili and the Ndwedwe Municipality were listed as respondents.
Judge Cele declared the suspension unlawful and set it aside. He also ordered that Hadebe be reinstated to his position with immediate effect and Chili pay the costs of the application.
In arriving at his decision, Judge Cele said that procedure had not been followed in effecting the suspension. Therefore, the applicant was entitled to the relief sought.
In court documents prepared by law firm Roy Singh Attorneys, Hadebe said the purpose for his application was to overturn his suspension, which he said was irregular.
He claimed that he was suspended because he exposed the alleged corrupt deeds of another senior municipal official last month.
Hadebe joined Ndwedwe as its acting municipal manager in July 2018 and his position was made permanent a year later.
He said when Chili announced his suspension, it came as a “massive surprise” because he was not aware of any investigation into his conduct.
However, between November and January, he received information about the senior municipal official’s acts of misconduct.
In response, he drafted a comprehensive memorandum which exposed the misconduct of the official, which he presented at a special council meeting that was convened on February 11.
When the matter was not dealt with on the day, Hadebe then wrote to the municipality, 10 days later, and raised his concerns on why no decision was made on misconduct allegations against the senior official.
He also raised that the non-action affected his performance as municipal manager. Hadebe said fruitless and wasteful expenditure was a consequence of the misconduct.
“I have no doubt that my suspension was premised on the allegations I made.”
Hadebe claimed his suspension was unlawful because it was not in accordance with the Municipal Structures Act.
According to the Act, the municipality ought to have presented the allegations against Hadebe at a council meeting, where a resolution should have been made on the way forward, which was also endorsed in the Constitution.
Hadebe also said that his suspension was not in accordance with the Department of Co-operative Governance’s disciplinary regulations for senior managers, which also called for suspensions to be linked to an investigation.
He claimed that he had attended all four council meetings since November 26 and was confident that his matter was never raised.
Hadebe said that in the letter he received from Chili on February 11, it did not detail any particular charges apart from the “bold allegation” that he had committed a series of financial misconducts, which related to the financial year that ended in July 2019.
He said the suspension would affect his reputation and career path, given his excellent reputation in management positions previously.
Chili said they would accept the court’s decision.
Hadebe is back at his office and working as normal.