REVERSE APPOINTMENT, MEC TOLD: DAILY DISPATCH

THE Democratic Alliance has called on the Eastern Cape government to reverse the appointment of the Sundays River Valley municipal manager.

The party has written to local government and traditional affairs MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane to stop former Bitou municipal manager Lonwabo Ngoqo from taking up the Sundays River Valley post from today.

Ngoqo was suspended last June by the DA-COPE executive in the Plettenberg Bay-based Bitou council for “non-cooperation” after he presented mayor Memory Booysen with a lawyer’s letter stating officials would not work with the new council.

He was also charged and found guilty in four of seven financial misconduct cases.

In the letter to Qoboshiyane, the DA’S local government head Dacre Haddon asks him to “reverse or stay this appointment on legal and moral grounds”.

The Local Government Municipal Systems Amendment Act of July 2011 states that any municipal employee dismissed for misconduct may only be re-employed after expiry of the prescribed penalty, while any municipal employee subjected to a disciplinary hearing may not be employed in another municipality until their case had been concluded. “Mr Ngoqo has not yet resigned from the Bitou municipality, yet is appointed to commence work at Sundays River Municipality on February 1.

“The sanction against Mr Ngoqo is still awaited and my colleague in parliament is obtaining details of the sanction before the employment of Mr Ngoqo takes effect,” read Haddon’s letter to Qoboshiyane.

“Should the sanction against Mr Ngoqo be one of dismissal from Bitou municipality, then in terms of section 57(a) sub paragraph (1) … a staff member dismissed for misconduct may only be re-employed by a municipality after the expiry of a prescribed period.”

Qoboshiyane’s spokesman, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, confirmed that the MEC had received the DA’S letter last Friday, but would only be able to act once the appointment had been confirmed by the Sundays River council. Sicwetsha said the Municipal Finance Systems Act stated that all councils had to send correspondence to the MEC “for concurrence” when they appointed municipal managers.

“It will be premature to decide on what to do as he [Qoboshiyane] has not seen any correspondence from the Sundays River Valley about [the] appointment of a municipal manager.”

In his acceptance letter, a copy of which was seen by the Daily Dispatch, Ngoqo demanded that his R850 000 salary be increased by R100 000 to R950 000.

Haddon also referred to a letter to Qoboshiyane dated January 23, which states that Ngoqo was excluded from the original six successful candidates because he was under investigation at Bitou.

“The acting municipal manager who wrote the letter lied to the MEC by not informing him in the letter that indeed Ngoqo had already been found guilty of misconduct,” said Haddon.

“If the MEC condones this appointment, then he must be held responsible for any actions that may arise in supporting this questionable and unethical appointment.”

Sicwetsha said: “At this stage … we do not know about this case whether it is on appeal or concluded. So we can’t conclusively say we are going to act in this manner. What we can safely say is that the MEC is inspired by the need for good and clean governance.”

Ngoqo could not be reached comment.