Danny Jordaan’s first headache when he takes office as
Nelson Mandela Bay municipality’s new mayor will be to deal with the mess left by his ANC
comrades because of jobs-for-pals and financial mismanagement. It comes at a price tag of more than R3-million.
The Port Elizabeth high court on Tuesday ordered that the municipality pay its former municipal manager, Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela, R3.1-million in
damages, including interest and legal costs, after she was pushed out of her
job through political interference in 2013.
Guardian reported in 2013 that Msengana-Ndlela had raised concerns about political
interference in her job, as well as intimidation. She blamed then executive mayor Nkosinathi Benson Fihla and
deputy mayor Thando Ngcolomba for making her job unbearable and putting her
security at risk. Fihla and Ngcolomba are on their way out after the party on
Monday announced that it was deploying Jordaan as mayor, with Bicks Ndoni as his deputy.
The court ruled that Msengana-Ndlela’s testimony
“Neither Fihla, Ngcolomba or anyone else testified and
refuted the plaintiff’s evidence,” Judge Dayalin Chetty’s judgment read.
Chetty had harsh words for the municipality,
saying its approach to the litigation “merits opprobrium”, particularly after
the city delayed the case.
“It is however obvious that, notwithstanding the
denials encapsulated in the plea, the defendant had no intention of refuting
the plaintiff’s version by the adduction of viva
voce evidence [evidence given in an open court]. And yet, they persisted
with their opposition with the concomitant incurring of legal costs, which the
ratepayers of the city will ultimately have to bear.”
Msengana-Ndlela’s efforts to tackle poor financial management and
increase accountability in the municipality had hit a brick wall, she said at
the time, in a letter to MEC for local government and traditional affairs Mlibo Qoboshiyane, requesting his intervention.
In the letter to
Qoboshiyane in 2013, Msengana-Ndlela listed instances of political interference, including that:
and Ngcolomba had pressured her to appoint a political adviser in the administration
as an acting executive director of corporate services, and/or other senior
managers irrespective of their competencies, qualifications and experience.
instructed Msengana-Ndlela to appoint 16 members of the Umkhonto weSizwe
Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) as bodyguards for the mayor and deputy
mayor at an estimated cost of R4.3-million, even though there was no
budget for the posts; and
reminded Msengana-Ndlela of “incidents of violence and death when people
don’t comply with the ‘majority rule’ concept”, which the municipal
manager said was being used to force her to perform administrative acts that
were contrary to government policies and procedure.
that it appeared the MKMVA members had been informed of their appointment and
that the veterans were under the impression that she was to blame for a delay
in their appointment. This saw her being threatened.
“One of the
members approached the city manager [Msengana-Ndlela] in her car in the
evening, knocking on her window and questioned her about the delays in their
appointment. The harassment of the city manager in this manner places her life
she had been “frequently reminded by the executive mayor [Fihla] of the
violence and the ultimate price that is paid by those who do not submit to
She said: “How, then, would
any reasonable person construe these reminders of violence against those who
express a different point of view if not as threats against the city manager?
Seemingly, there is so much at stake that issues of the administration in the
metro … that these matters have been turned [into] issues of life and death.”
director general of the former department of provincial and local government,
now called co-operative governance and traditional affairs. Under her
leadership the department received clean audits for seven consecutive years.