ON July 30, the DA caucus of the Camdeboo Municipality wrote to Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane to oppose the appointment by the ANC caucus of Noel Pietersen as municipal manager. Despite submitting the letter to the MEC and three members of his staff, we have received no response.
On September 3, we re-sent our letter to the MEC and four of his staff members, requesting an acknowledgement and a response. We have not had any response.
On September 12, the municipality was advised by the MEC that he had approved the appointment of Pietersen. At a meeting convened to discuss the municipal manager’s date of commencement, the DA caucus again voiced its objection to this appointment particularly in light of the following issues:
- Despite compliance with minimum financial competency regulations that became mandatory on January 1 being necessary, the new appointee does not possess the requisite qualifications. The MEC has recommended that the council apply to the national Treasury for relaxation of the regulations in terms of circular 60. However, the DA is writing to the national Treasury to oppose the relaxation of the regulations in this case. MPL Dacre Haddon is submitting a question to the MEC in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature in this regard;
- In appointing Pietersen, the selection panel did not comply with the requirements for the municipal manager as detailed in the advertisement placed by the Camdeboo Municipality. In this regard, the shortlisting and appointment of Pietersen was fundamentally flawed. We have requested DA shadow minister for local government John Steenhuisen to approach Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs Minister Lechesa Tsenoli to request the MEC to withdraw his support of the appointment and place pressure on the ANC caucus in council to overturn the appointment;
- Pietersen is currently embroiled in legal problems relating to theft and fraud. He has appeared in court on three charges. He was fired from his last job after being found guilty in a disciplinary hearing of failing to comply with his duties as set out in the Municipal Finance Management Act and the Municipal Structures Act.
The DA is opposed to appointing any individual in the position of chief accounting officer in the municipality while he or she is engaged in legal battles relating to alleged financial irregularities.
The DA subscribes to the constitutionally enshrined principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. However, Pietersen’s other shortcomings along with his legal battles lead us to conclude that he is entirely unsuitable to be appointed municipal manager of Camdeboo Municipality.
Despite the issues raised by the DA, the ANC caucus has refused to discuss the matter and has adhered to its decision to appoint Pietersen. An appointment date will be determined if or when the relaxation of the minimum competency regulations has been confirmed.
Theuns Eksteen, DA councillor, Camdeboo Municipality