Speaker irregularly appoints acting municipal manager

The speaker of the Madibeng municipality on Friday took it upon herself to irregularly reappoint the acting municipal manger.

Madibeng speaker Ditshego Mbezi

Speaker Ditshego Mbezi ignored the Municipal Systems Act and the council, that is the only body allowed to make such appointments and reappointed Motlalekgomo Mmope during a council meeting on Friday. Mmope’s contract ended on 5 July 2022.

“The Speaker of Madibeng took this critical decision away from the Council and made a decision that she was not legally entitled to make. We have already written a letter to the Speaker, informing her that she overstepped her authority and that any decisions made by Ms Mmope are illegal, said DA caucus leader in Madibeng, Jan van Rhyn.

Following the recent Auditor General report and the concern about critical vacant senior management positions, Madibeng mayor, Douglas Maimane said the posts will be filled by the end of September. Two candidates were put forward for the municipal manager position to be decided on at the council meeting.

The DA called for a division of the house and indicated that it would abstain from voting. The FF+ seconded the motion.

“Because there were two candidates proposed, the house had to be divided and a vote held for the appointment, but instead of calling for a vote in accordance with the Rules of Order, the Speaker informed Council that no vote would be held and that she had appointed Ms Mmope as Acting Municipal Manager,” Van Rhyn said.

FF+ councillor, Elsa Lourens put forward a motion that the council not make an appointment now and mandate the executive mayor to write an urgent letter to the MEC requesting the MEC to second a suitable candidate for the acting position and to table the Close-out report from the previous administration still outstanding, for which an urgent Special Council meeting must then be convened on Monday the 11th of June. “The motion was seconded by the executive mayor Cllr Douglas Maimane.

“Councillors told the speaker that she was not adhering to the Rules of Order by not allowing council members to participate, deliberate or vote on the powers delegated to us as a council. However, she told the council that she will not allow any voting to take place and that the decision made by this council will be a unified one and that it is the decision of this council that Mmope is reinstated as acting Municipal Manager. She then closed the item,” Lourens said.
“Most Councillors left the chambers and even if the speaker did have a recommendation and secondment from the councillors that remained, there would have been no quorum to proceed.”

DA’s Van Rhyn said the Municipal Systems Act, Act 32 of 2000, Section 54, clearly states that the municipal council must appoint a municipal manager or acting municipal manager. “The search for a permanent Municipal Manager was well underway, with a member of the DA Caucus on the selection panel. Interviews with candidates were scheduled, but the process was halted when Ms Mmope filed an urgent application with the High Court in Johannesburg, interdicting the municipality from completing the process because she believes she is the best candidate for the position,” he said. The North West MEC of the Department of Cooperative Government, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs, Lenah Miga earlier advised the Madibeng council that Mmope is not qualified for the position and lacks the necessary experience.
“Since the inception of the new municipal council in November 2021, the current speaker has been unable to maintain order during council meetings, resulting in meetings that sometimes end in chaos. She is clearly unfit for the job because she is unfamiliar with the law and the Rules of Order, and it is past time for her to resign and pass the torch to someone more capable.”

In a letter to the speaker after the meeting, Lourens informed the speaker that any financial decision or payment affected on and from 8 July will be deemed fraudulent, and that the speaker and councillors who remained in the meeting, will be personally held liable.

“The DA in Madibeng will decide how to proceed with the Speaker, and a Motion of No Confidence in her may be the only option,” Van Rhyn said.