Pretoria - The “broken administrative system” of the City of Tshwane was caused by senior officials who were hellbent on serving political parties they were aligned to, outgoing acting city manager Moeketsi Ntsimane said on Monday.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Pretoria News, Ntsimane said he had learnt about the influence of some high-profile officials within political circles on the affairs of the metro in his three months at the helm of the City’s administration. He replaced controversial Dr Moeketsi Mosola, albeit in an acting capacity, three months ago.
He said he was the victim of a severe backlash because he took unpopular decisions against the politically-aligned officials at Tshwane House.
Ntsimane was careful not to mention names, but spelt out that there was a long-standing tradition to mix administrative functions with politics in the metro. He denounced the association of politics and administrators, saying this had the capacity to compromise service delivery. “Even when the political regime changes, the administration must remain the same,” he said.
Ntsimane, who is vying for the position of city manager, also hit back at his detractors, who include the Young Communist League in Tshwane.
The movement has labelled him “malleable”, claiming he was doing the bidding of embattled Executive Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa by plotting to get rid of people perceived to be a stumbling-block to looting. He dismissed claims he had acted on the instruction of the mayor to suspend or act against officials.
On December 1, Ntsimane was replaced by the group head of Economic Development and Spatial Planning, Augustine Makgata, having acted for three months as Tshwane boss.
He charged that the major problem within the City revolved around officials with political alignment, who he branded “poliofficials”.
Ntsimane also broke his silence about the controversy around a director at the human settlements department, Nonto Memela, who has been on suspension for more than a year. The Labour Court on Friday ruled that Memela must be reinstated, failing which Ntsimane must face imprisonment for being in contempt of a court ruling in June, which ordered the City to lift the suspension.
He said the suspension happened 12 months ago during Mosola’s tenure.
He said the suspension was a result of Mosola’s concerns about unauthorised and irregular expenditure that took place at the human settlements department under Memela’s watch.
The expenditure was related to a roads and transport project in Soshanguve. Mosola had to pay R8.6 million to the contractor and then suspended Memela. “I am being vilified by the instruction that happened during Mosola’s tenure in office,” Ntsimane said.
Memela was supposed to start work on Monday and acting mayor Abel Tau reportedly said the City was not going to turn her away.
Ntsimane said the City failed to challenge the June ruling, propelling the court to make a judgment against him.
Memela took the matter to court because she was aggrieved after the City kept postponing any charges against her due to the unending investigations.
Ntsimane said that in September he issued an instruction that Memela must be charged, but that never happened. “I only got to know about it on November 22. On November 29, there was a court judgment that she be reinstated or else I would be imprisoned,” he said.
He disclosed that he initially refused to take up the position of acting city manager. He said he was first asked by Mosola to consider taking up the position, but declined. He reconsidered his decision after he was approached by Mokgalapa and received blessings from the audit committee that he could get the job.
Asked whether he carried out decisions on Mokgalapa’s instructions, he said: “I can’t be joysticked or controlled by politicians.”
Following his three-month acting term, he would be on a cooling-off period for six months because of his former position as the chief audit executive. Ntsimane said the period involved not taking part in the decision-making processes as that might lead to a conflict of interest.
The Young Communist League had alleged that should Ntsimane be appointed as the city manager, it would be equal to Mosola governing the City from the grave.
But Ntsimane said: “Mosola can’t tell me what to do and what not to do. My relationship with him was professional.”
Last week head of legal services Marna Kock was placed on suspension. Ntsimane refused to dwell on details. “There is no holy cow in the City. All of us must be held accountable,” he said. The Pretoria News understands that the group head of Utility Services, Stephen Notoane, has recently received a letter of intention to suspend him owing to problems arising from the migration of the City from the smart meters installed by Peu Capital Partners to the City’s own infrastructure.