Makhado municipal manager Mr Sakkie Mutshinyali has become the third consecutive municipal manager to part ways with the municipality under controversial circumstances.
Similar to the way in which former municipal managers Ms Faith Muthambi and Mr Reuben Rambado’s employment ended at the Makhado Municipality, Mutshinyali was also charged with mismanagement and corruption and subsequently suspended, only for the municipality to later reach a settlement agreement with them.
Regarding Mutshinyali, the term “suspended” is used loosely as the municipality objected to the use of the word. Initial information available to the Zoutpansberger indicated that Mutshinyali was “suspended” during a closed Special Council meeting on 27 October last year. During this meeting, newly appointed mayor Cllr Shonisani Sinyosi tabled a report containing serious allegations of misconduct against Mutshinyali. Interestingly enough, the events leading up to Mutshinyali’s “suspension” bear a remarkable resemblance to the way in which Rambado was suspended in July 2004. His suspension also followed the tabling of a report by the ad hoc committee appointed by newly appointed mayor Cllr Rhulani Nkuzana as part of his 100-Days Plan to investigate allegations of nepotism and corruption.
The Zoutpansberger reported on Mutshinyali’s “suspension”, but soon afterwards the municipality objected to the use of the word “suspended”, indicating that Mutshinyali was merely placed on special leave pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings against him. The municipality stated that Mutshinyali was given seven days’ notice of their intention to suspend him, during which time Mutshinyali had to give reason why they should not suspend him.
The long and the short of the matter is that nothing happened and Mutshinyali’s “special leave” was merely extended indefinitely.
This all changed on 31 May this year when Council, during a special meeting, resolved that the municipality part ways with Mutshinyali by means of a settlement agreement. This agreement was confirmed by municipal spokesperson Mr Louis Bobodi this week. “The acting municipal manager was authorised by Council to conclude a final deed of settlement, subject to certain conditions,” said Bobodi. He did not, however, want to disclose the settlement amount, how it was calculated and what the terms of the settlement entailed, stating that this information was confidential.
The Zoutpansberger, however, did a bit of digging and found that the settlement amount totals R1 389 571.20 (excluding VAT) calculated as, all excluding VAT, (a) leave days estimated at R189 475.68; (b) performance bonus estimated at R83 832.18; (c) six months’ salary estimated at R822 393.72; and (d) the remaining contract period of two months and three days estimated at R293 869.71 as of the day the resolution was taken.
As for the terms, the resolution states that the disciplinary hearing against the municipal manager must be discontinued with immediate effect and that both parties undertake not to institute civil litigation against each other on the matters that are subject to the disciplinary hearing.
Again, the terms are very similar to the “severance package” Rambado was offered in October 2004. The municipality offered him R836 400 in terms of his employment contract as full and final settlement, in exchange for Rambado’s resignation. The municipality also offered to withdraw all charges against Rambado.
In both Rambado and Muthambi’s cases, the controversial way in which they left the municipality did not seem to influence their political careers at all. Until recently, Muthambi was Minister of Communications, until President Jacob Zuma appointed her as Minister of Public Service and Administration. Rambado was recently appointed as the new municipal manager of the Vhembe District Municipality.
With regard to the current status quo, Bobodi indicated that Mutshinyali had already resigned effective 1 June this year. He stated that Mr Johannes Kanwendo would continue as acting municipal manager until a new municipal manager was appointed. “The post has already been advertised,” said Bobodi.