Picture: African News Agency(ANA) Archives

PIETERMARITZBURG - Political parties in Msunduzi Municipality (Pietermaritzburg) have welcomed the suspension of city manager Sizwe Hadebe, hailing the move as a positive step that demonstrates council’s commitment to good governance. 

The city manager’s suspension was reached unanimously by a special council sitting on Thursday afternoon, a meeting which he did not attend.

Hadebe has been embroiled in controversy this year following the leak of an audio clip, with a voice alleged to be his, in which a subordinate is given an instruction to appoint a candidate who scored lower points during an interview.  The recording, which went viral, sparked a wave of protests by African National Congress (ANC) members and alliance partners, with calls for his suspension, while some called for his sacking.  

Thursday’s suspension, according to Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo, will allow for a comprehensive investigation into a string of allegations leveled against Hadebe. “The view of council was it will assist the investigation if he is not in the premises and everyone, especially officials, will be able to give evidence and assist the investigation,” said the mayor. 

The investigation will be led by Sithembele Mhlanga of Mhlanga Attorneys and will investigate allegations of misconduct, including illegal appointments and awarding of contracts. The mayor appealed for cool heads from city residents, and said the councillors wanted a clean administration.

The African Christian Democratic Party’s (ACDP) Rienus Niemand said Thursday’s suspension made them feel vindicated, adding that they expect more revelations from the investigation. "Our continuous exposure of corruption and insistence on clean government has made them realise their folly. As this is only the tip of the iceberg we are confident that the investigation will be the start of exposing the endemic corruption that permeates the ANC government in Msunduzi." 

Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said they were relieved following the suspension and would present evidence so that Hadebe gets a tough sanction.

"We have evidence that is in the form of documentation which details wrongdoing by the city manager. Our hope is that the investigation will be transparent and allow for everyone to provide evidence because the reputation of the city is at stake here. We are a KZN capital and must therefore be seen to aspire to high standards of good governance,” said Majola. 

According to the DA leader, his party will also be pursuing criminal charges against the city manager. ANC councillors said the suspension underlines the ruling party’s commitment to clean governance.  

An acting city manager is expected to be announced next week.

African News Agency (ANA)