Cape Town - The MEC of the Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Anton Bredell has said he is disappointment and concerned about the process followed by the Beaufort West municipal council in suspending the municipal manager, director of Financial Services (CFO) and director of Infrastructure Services.
Director of Infrastructure Denwin van Turha, CFO Nomfundo Ntsangani, as well as the municipal Manager, Jackson Penxa were suspended after failing to make representations on why they should not be suspended. It is understood that the senior managers were suspended for allegedly failing to comply and perform in terms of the financial recovery plan (FRP) approved by the Western Cape Government in March this year.
“These suspensions come at a time when a mandatory FRP, has been imposed on the Municipality by the Provincial Executive in accordance with section 139 of the Constitution,” Bredell said.
“The provincial intervention was initiated due to the ongoing financial problems in the municipality. The aim of the formal intervention is to end the financial crisis and aid the municipality’s recovery and it has several mandatory legislated steps. The municipality is the primary actor responsible for the FRP’s implementation, with the FRP containing specific and actionable financial, service delivery, institutional, and governance targets which the municipality must achieve,” Bredell said.
He also said the FRP mandates that he be consulted first before any appointments, suspensions or any disciplinary action relating to senior managers.
“The speaker’s belated attempt to afford me an opportunity to provide input into the vague allegations levelled against the senior managers, at an hour short of midnight ahead of the council meeting scheduled the next morning, is wholly insufficient for meaningful consultation by any standard. This represents a clear deviation from the municipality’s obligations under the FRP,” Bredell said.
Papers from the council seen by the Weekend Argus show that the suspended trio are accused of serious misconduct. They were all asked to make submissions as to why they should not be suspended.
In letters responding to the mayor Gideon Pietersen they argue that the allegations are vague and unclear to them. They requested the mayor to explain but instead, say they were suspended.
There has been an ongoing internal feud in the municipality. Penxa was recently reinstated as a municipal manager by the labour court and this is his second suspension in less than a month since he returned.
He denied any wrongdoing on his side. “I see this as nothing but harassment,” he said. “RFP was signed on March 22 and there are weekly meetings held for updates. A report was tabled and noted by the council.”
The speaker declined to comment and said mayor Pietersen is the one who will handle all media questions about the matter. When contacted for comment, Pietersen said he will respond in due course.
“There are fears that service delivery will be affected by the suspensions. Penxa said tax payer’s money will be wasted. “They will pay us while we are at home and also pay the people who will be acting in our positions.”