In the hopes of seeing some positive action and a suspension to the ongoing political infighting and growing number of municipal actors (we only have one permanent municipal executive director supported by a bunch of acting directors and managers) I toddled along to the special meeting of Council this morning at 10:00 am.
I have been avoiding visits to council as they just serve to depress my cynical self and it was with joy in my heart and a skip in my step that I entered the hallowed halls of the kindergarten in anticipation of a quick decision from the assembled cry babies to ratify the appointment of Acting Municipal Manager Number Three, Dr Israel Tsatsire.
Suffice to say that after loads of hot air and posturing from people not long out of nappies the appointment of Dr Tsatsire to the position of Acting Municipal Manager Number Three was finally ratified.
What was interesting to me, especially after a long absence from these gatherings, was the apparent shift in power and allegiances – of course this could have just been for this one meeting but, to my mind, the DA actually seemed to be engaging the ANC majority with positive suggestions crafted to ensure that the municipality could begin to actually function again.
The interesting part of the final vote was the voting split of the 111 councillors present:
- 87 – For (the entire DA and most of the ANC)
- 10 – Against (one ANC and all the COPE, PAC, ACDP and UDM councillors)
- 14 – Abstentions (all from the ANC camp)
What was even more revealing to me was that the very same ANC members who told me that the appointment of Zanoxolo Wayile as Executive Mayor would set the Metro onto the right path were the ones either against or abstaining from the vote. Can anyone say; “Comrade Giraffe?”
Whether this Acting Municipal Manager Number Three (appointed for 3 months OR until a new Municipal Manager is appointed) will quieten our friend Mlibo, who is on record demanding the appointment of a permanent municipal manager, remains to be seen. (See: Mlibo Spanks Metro).
We have to face facts – our Metro has a dismal public record when it comes to Municipal Managers. The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitian Municipality council has not seen a single municipal manager serve out the entire term of his or her contract since the municipality was established in 2000.
Former municipal manager Graham Richards has received two golden handshakes worth a combined R6 million after he was fired twice. Richards received his first R3 million payout in 2002 and a R3 million handshake in 2010. Ironically, Richards was rehired by the council in 2006 to replace Mzimasi Mangcotywa, who was appointed to replace him.
Mangcotywa received a R2.2 million payout when he was fired.
After Graham Richards took the money and ran, Elias Ntoba was hired as Acting Municipal Manager only to be replaced by Themba Hani, who was finally ejected on 22 November 2012. Now Acting Municipal Manager Number Three, Dr Israel Tsatsire has been appointed with effect from 4 December 2012.
In some sense my venturing back to council does have some good news in that my aged ears did hear the head of the majority party, Zanoxolo Wayile, and the head of the official opposition, Leon de Villiers, saying words that sounded distinctly like; “We need to sort this cr*p out and show the citizens that we are acting for them!” – I could be wrong, but I am sure you want me to be right.
On the other side of the coin, though, the DA has now created a division in their alliance partners who, I am sure, will not work together with the DA for much longer – as entertaining as the honourable councillors from COPE, PAC, ACDP and UDM may be!