Tzaneen municipal manager Thapelo Matlala claims he resigned due to stress
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Pretoria - Greater Tzaneen in Limpopo municipal manager Thapelo Matlala, who resigned on Friday following endless run-ins with the ANC-led council, claims he vacated office because of stress.
Speaking exclusively to the Pretoria News over the weekend, Matlala said, despite the speculation about him terminating his four-year contract, he had done so in order to take a sabbatical and rejuvenate.
“I was not pushed. If I had wanted to continue with my contract, I would have.
“After been at the SA Local Government Association for eight years, and three years in the municipality, I realised that I spend a lot of time at work and at some point you need to take a break and rejuvenate. I have had serious challenges in the municipality and have to rest.”
However, Pretoria News can reveal that Matlala was caught in the ANC’s factional battles that culminated in his illegal suspension, a case which he won at the Labour Court in Braamfontein, Joburg, in 2019, barely a year after his appointment.
The ANC is the majority party in the municipality council.
Matlala also faced strong opposition from the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) for his leadership style and hard-handed approach.
He fell out of favour with municipal employees when he cut the overtime budget in half, as one of his first moves after his appointment.
He also overturned a tender awarded to Limpopo company Tshiamiso for the Codesa Road Project in Mulati Road in Tzaneen.
When the multimillion-rand road project stalled, scores of villagers in Mulati within the Tzaneen Local Municipality took to the streets, last year, demanding that it be completed.
The outgoing municipal manager was attacked during a council meeting last year and had to be evacuated by police.
He joined the Greater Tzaneen Municipality on April 3, 2018, from the South African Local Government Association (Salga), where he held the position of Limpopo provincial executive officer.
“The overtime issue was massive. When I got appointed I wanted to save municipal money for service delivery, and with that I saved over R1 million. I don’t think I fell out of favour with employees.
“It was just a matter of understanding that money has to be saved for service delivery, because it was in the interest of the institution.
“I had a good relationship with Samwu and got all the support from staff,” Matlala said.
Asked about his suspension, Matlala said: “The reason I took the matter to court was because there was no reason for my suspension. Even my lawyers wrote a letter to the municipality asking why I was suspended, but we never got a reply.
“I suspect there was misrepresentation in council and they wanted to put the fault at my doorstep.”
Municipal spokesperson Neville Ndlala said the municipality would announce an acting municipal manager soon.
He said: “Thapelo Matlala resigned as the municipal manager of the Greater Tzaneen Municipality with immediate effect.
“He did not indicate his reason for the resignation. In his brief resignation letter, Mr Matlala thanked the Greater Tzaneen Municipality for the opportunity to serve.
“The Greater Tzaneen Municipality wishes Mr Matlala the best in his future endeavours.”