EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede addressed and clarified a number of issues that have been raised in the media recently about the City at a Special Executive Committee meeting held today, 31 July.

Mayor Gumede emphasised that the special meeting was not held to address these issues specifically, but to finalise outstanding items ahead of a Full Council meeting tomorrow, 1 August. However, Mayor Gumede said as the political head of the City she has a duty to set the record straight by clarifying issues that have dominated the media in recent weeks. 

These issues include matters concerning staff, procurement issues and general public safety especially safety concerns around the Glebelands Community Residential Unit (CRU), formerly known as hostels.

Regarding safety she said: “It is unfortunate that as late as last week people are continuing to die at the Glebelands CRU. We condemn these senseless killings and take this opportunity to send condolences to the families of the two deceased who were gunned down last week.”

She said the public should know that government is working tirelessly in search of solutions to the Glebelands killings. 

“We urge the police to act swiftly in arresting the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and also to resolve the outstanding murder cases in Glebelands and other areas such as Intshanga. We welcome the appointment of the Moerane Commission and we are hopeful that it will shed some light into the political killings that have besmirched our province. We want to see peace and stability in all our communities especially in areas like Glebelands, KwaMashu CRU and Ntshangwe in Cato Ridge,” said Mayor Gumede.

PROCUREMENT BY METRO POLICE OF SECURITY VEHICLES AND DOGS

On the issue of procurement of dogs and security vehicles, Mayor Gumede said she has written to the Metro Police requesting a report on these matters which they are still awaiting. 

“This has taken too long and we will seek political guidance on what should be the way forward. As a matter of principle, we have always received dogs as a donation to us and we don’t understand why we had to pay millions this time around.”

While Mayor Gumede did not want to discuss the procurement of the security vehicles pending the report, she said one of the four had been delivered to the City.

“We are still waiting for the report and will decide from there on the way forward.”

STAFFING MATTERS IN THE CITY

Mayor Gumede was clear that there was no staff exodus in the City and reassured the public that service delivery has not been impacted.

She said she wanted City Manager Sipho Nzuza to be present to give light on the “so called exodus of staff” as he had been away on Municipal business at the previous Executive Committee meeting where the issue was raised.

Mayor Gumede said she supports Nzuza’s leadership in dealing with staffing issues. She said it was important to deal with low staff moral by ensuring that staff are motivated and are paid properly if they do their job. 

While she said excellence must be rewarded, on the other hand, those who fail to comply with legislation must be dealt with according to the applicable labour laws with no political interference. 

“The Auditor General was clear that eThekwini must have a clear consequence management plan. It is unfortunate and opportunistic for people to go to the media and speak about purging when we implement laws. The ANC gave us the mandate to take harsh steps against corruption because people were saying we are too soft. We will not hide or protect people who are not doing their jobs. We will not allow anyone to sabotage us and use his or her position in the Municipality to sabotage the City,” she said.

Mayor Gumede encouraged Nzuza to start the process of filling all vacancies.

Providing further clarity on recent resignations, suspensions and early retirement issues of senior staff in the City, Nzuza provided a list of employees who have left the City.

This included Dr Musa Gumede, the Deputy City Manager of Health, Safety and Security who will be taking up a position in the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department. Nzuza said Dr Gumede was leaving of his own accord.

The Head of Legal and Compliance Unit, Nokhana Moerane who resigned from the City without indicating her reason for doing so in April.

Ntokozo Zungu a Manager in the City Manager’s Office has also resigned due to personal reasons said Nzuza.

Nzuza said while there were allegations that Chief Audit Executive Phillip Ntsimane had left the City and would be taking up a position in Tshwane from 1 August, he had not received a resignation letter from Ntsimane. The same can be said for Sugen Moodley, a Senior Manager at the Municipal Learning Institute. While he would be pursuing a position in academia, Nzuza said he has not received a resignation letter from Moodley.

Nzuza said the Head of the Metro Police Eugene Nzama has indicated that he would like to take early retirement but declined to provide further information due to the employee-employer privilege.

Nzuza also spoke of recent suspensions in the City, including Head of the Health Unit Dr Nomakhosi Gxagxisa, Head of the City’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit Thembinkosi Ngcobo and Nhlanhla Mthethwa, a Project Executive at Metro Police all facing charges of misconduct.

Nzuza said there has only been one dismissal that of former Head of Electricity Sandile Maphumulo following a properly constituted disciplinary hearing where he faced serious charges of misconduct. The sanction imposed by the chairperson was the ultimate sanction of dismissal.

“Mr Maphumalo had representation throughout the hearing and at its conclusion was advised of his right to appeal the outcome of the hearing and the sanction which I believe he has opted to do,” Nzuza said.

Mayor Gumede said the City was not collapsing.

“We are shining as the City and will continue to do so. I am here to work and not play. We will continue to work for our people and lead them.”

Mayor Gumede reiterated this sentiment at a brief press conference held after the Executive Committee meeting saying she was not here to spill any beans but to set the record straight. 

“Only two people have left the Municipality with one person dismissed. There is no exodus of staff in the City and there are no issues in the City. We are working.”

CITY ENGAGING WITH CIVIL SOCIETY

Mayor Gumede said as a progressive City they always provide a listening ear to social partners, civil society groupings and the public at large. She said they have had a series of meetings with affected social groupings across the spectrum including Abahlali BaseMjondolo and the Business Forum. 

“We have started a process of engaging with Abahlali BaseMjondolo with the primary view of addressing their concerns pertaining to housing developments and opportunities as well as the inherent challenges associated with projects of this magnitude. Last Thursday, (Executive Committee member and Chairperson of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee) Councillor Mondli Mthembu hosted the President of Abahlali BaseMjondolo and his entourage. The meeting charted the way forward which was acceptable to all parties concerned and the same could be said about the Business Forum,” she said adding that this did not mean that all the issues have been resolved but rather that they have agreed on the programmes to address these challenges. 

She said they would be engaging with concerned groups from the South Durban Basin soon.

LAUNCH OF MAYORAL RESPONSE OFFICE TO ADDRESS BILLING CONCERNS

Mayor Gumede said she has noted with concern the issue of incorrect billing of residents. She said they are investigating the matter and hope to find a speedy resolution.

“I am confident the City Manager will leave no stone unturned to resolve this issue.”

She announced the launch of a Mayoral Response Office that will be dealing with these complaints. Coupled with this is the imminent launch of the one number call centre for all complaints in the City.

“Currently different departments in the City such as water and electricity have different numbers for their call centres. We will soon be launching the one number for all the City’s call centres. Also, staff will be retrained to ensure that everything is in order,” she said.

Lastly, Mayor Gumede said that she hopes when action is taken people will not run to the media and say they are being purged. 

“The media must refuse to be used by those with corrupt agendas. The media must research leaked information before they publish. People with strong cases will run to court or formal institutions if they know they have a strong case. Those who run to the media are trying to politicise legal matters. We will allow for internal processes to be completed before we reflect on the matters. There will always be consequences for wrongdoers,” she added. 

ENDS 

Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications Tozi Mthethwa.