The rather pricey settlement between Polokwane Municipality and its suspended Manager will most likely come under the spotlight when an intended fact-finding mission of the Institute of South African Municipal Accounting Officers (Isamao) touches down in Limpopo in near future to investigate the high turn-over rate of accounting officers at various municipalities across South Africa.
Isamao National Chairperson Dan Mashitisho told Polokwane Observer they planned to commission a fact-finding mission into the unacceptably high turn-over levels of municipal accounting officers at South African municipalities and have discussions with relevant stakeholders across the board to resolve the matter. The current trend of suspensions and golden handshakes identified at institutions across the country was of grave concern to Isamao, he stressed.
Mashitisho expressed the belief that it led to the disturbance of the administration, destabilised municipalities and adversely affected service delivery. “This is not the time to juggle municipal managers.”
The reason for it being the fact that they needed to accelerate the Back To Basics Campaign towards the local government elections of 2016, he explained. The scenario pointed at a deep-seated problem, he reckoned.
Connie Mametja’s symbolic send-off is seen as a costly incurrence for the taxpayer’s bill, creating the necessity to appoint an already anxiously waiting candidate allegedly earmarked to take her place. The three names of possible preferred candidates for the now vacant position of Municipal Manager at Polokwane Municipality are being withheld.
The decision that led to the costly settlement, which is generally seen as fruitless expenditure ahead of the short-term appointment of a candidate preferred by the powers that be in the province, was taken by Polo-
kwane City Council on Friday. It was preceded by Mametja’s resignation, as stated in a media release issued by Matshidiso Mothapo on behalf of Polokwane Municipality Communications and Marketing Manager Tidimalo Chuene. In the release it was stated that the Council had resolved to settle the matter to avoid protracted disciplinary proceedings and huge legal costs associated with the disciplinary proceedings to further bring stability to the institution. It was stressed that the terms of the settlement were confidential and would only be disclosed by the municipality to appropriate authorities in discharging its reporting duties.
However, from sources in local government it was learnt that Mametja was approached to settle rather than enter into a drawn-out suspension battle. As far as could be established Mametja was only one among about ten individuals in the province to have followed the same route in a short space of time, sources pointed out. In the bigger scheme of things she was better off entering into the settlement than fighting the system, one such source alluded. “If the allegations against her carried weight, why would the municipality want to settle?”
The release of information on the allegations against Mametja – despite initial requests for councillors to treat the information confidentially – could hold repercussions for Democratic Alliance (DA) Councillor Frank Haas. Mothapo later confirmed in a follow-up email to Polokwane Observer that the Council’s ethics committee had not received any complaint about the matter, but added saying that “However, they are looking into the matter and may take appropriate steps.”
News of the settlement broke at the time of the ruling party’s provincial executive resolving that two mayors, Tlhalefi Mashamaite and Seriti Sekgoloane of the embattled Mogalakwena and Blouberg Municipalities, had to be recalled this week. In a media release issued by ANC Provincial Secretary Nocks Seabi after a Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meeting on Monday, it was stated that the PEC had resolved to recall the two mayors as part of the ANC’s continued efforts to strengthen municipal capacity for improved service delivery. Seabi added that they would remain on as councillors in the respective municipalities and that the process of appointing new mayors would be concluded within the next two weeks.