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Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality still in unstable waters

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The Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality at Lebowakgomo, is still without a Municipal Manager and the Lepelle Nkumpi Development Party (LNDP) has now requested Premier Stan Mathabatha to nullify the secondment of an acting Municipal Manager by Makoma Makhurupetje, MEC for Cooperative Governance, Housing Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta).
Municipal Manager Freddy Ramakhapela was suspended on 13 March 2013 and the investigation and disciplinary process have been dragging on for two years. On 28 November 2014, Makhurupetje intervened and seconded Lanny Ramothwala as acting Municipal Manager until the post is filled.
In the latest development, the municipality, at a meeting that took place on 31 August, resolved to part ways with Ramaphakela.
Phauwe Mphahlele, President of the LNDP, says in a letter addressed to Mathabatha, that his party maintains that the secondment of Ramothwala as Municipal Manager (sic) is “unreasonable, wrongful, unlawful and unconstitutional”. Mpahlele quotes the Municipal Systems Act and the Structures Act, as well as the Constitution and that his interpretation of the legislation informs his opinion. The party’s belief is that the position of Municipal Manager had been vacant and that it had to be filled by means of advertisement and compliance with procedures as stipulated in the Systems Act.
The party does not agree that the position of Municipal Manager only becomes vacant when the incumbent resigns, passes away, goes on pension or his or her services are terminated. When a Municipal Manager is suspended, an acting Municipal Manager is appointed for a term not exceeding three months and is usually done by rotating senior managers from within the municipality.
Regarding provincial intervention in local government, Section 139 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act no 108 of 1996 stipulates that “When a municipality cannot or does not fulfill an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation, the relevant provincial executive may intervene by taking any appropriate steps to ensure fulfillment of that obligation, “.
Mokgadi Maubane, Senior Communications Officer of the municipality, confirmed that the terms of the settlement with Ramaphakela are confidential and will only be disclosed by the municipality to appropriate authorities in discharging its reporting duties. “Council resolved to settle the matter to avoid protracted disciplinary proceedings; huge legal costs associated with the disciplinary proceedings and further to bring stability to the municipality,” Maubane reported.
The municipality now has to declare that the position of Municipal Manager is vacant and take the necessary steps to fill the post.
Callies Matlala, Spokesperson in the office of MEC Makhurupetje, commented to say that “Now that the municipality and Mr Ramaphakela have smoked a peace pipe in the interest of the municipality, as the department we hope that the municipality will focus on fulfilling its mandate of providing services to the people of Lepelle Nkumpi.”

Story: BARRY VILJOEN
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