South Africa: Mr President, Please Step in - Disgruntled City of Tshwane Employees

While the DA in Tshwane reels from the recent South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) strike and battles to finalise its relationship with outgoing and embattled city manager Moeketsi Mosola, a group of employees calling themselves "concerned employees of Tshwane" are pleading with both national and provincial government to intervene in the city's state of affairs.

In the letter dated July 2, purportedly by some of the city's employees who refuse to make their identities public out of fear of intimidation, they call on both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Gauteng MEC Lebogang Maile - who is responsible for human settlement, urban planning and cooperative governance and traditional affairs - to assist.

The employees raise concern over Mosola's alleged "reign of terror in the city", Stevens Mokgalapa's ineffectiveness as a mayor, procurement processes, tenders awarded by the city and illegal employment procedures, among several other claims.

"The morale of honest people are (sic) currently at lowest level as results of lack of action by those given the responsibility to govern the City of Tshwane," said the anonymous staffers in the letter, which News24 has seen.

They are asking for Ramaphosa to personally intervene in the affairs at the country's capital city.

In the letter, the workers criticise the DA government's handling of Mosola, who has been at odds with the city for a long time, even taking it to court to stop a report by law firm Bowmans looking into the controversial GladAfrica tender.

The auditor general's report into the multibillion-rand contract found it was irregular and that there was inadequate separation of duties in accordance with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) as Mosola was the initiator of the process that led to the appointment of GladAfrica.

The DA last month admitted it had reached a settlement agreement with the municipal manager, believed to be worth R7m, to walk away from the role he signed on to do until 2022.

The city manager is yet to sign the settlement, his July deadline to vacate office has been extended after the mayor granted him special leave until end of August.

PR nightmare

"When Mosola interdicted the Bowmans Report last year he enlisted the services of a PR agency called 'Decode', whose owner is TV anchor JJ Tabane and his assistant Lorato Tshenkeng, who runs its operation, to handle his communications. Tshenkeng also responds to official media enquiries on behalf of Mosola despite Mosola having a fully-fledged communications department," claim the employees.

They further claim the same company was being used to write speeches for Mokgalapa, even though the municipality has its own communications department to assist with such; in addition, Decode is not on the city's database.

Tshenkeng, in spite being seen alongside Tabane in the same court as Mosola when the city manager took the municipality to court in October 2018, distanced the TV host from the debacle.

"He has never been part of Decode Communications. He is not a shareholder, a director or employee," Tshenkeng told News24, claiming to be both its founder and CEO.

Tshenkeng, while rubbishing some of the claims made by the so called "concerned employees", confirmed some aspects of the issues raised in their letter.

"Decode provide(d) crisis communications services to Dr Mosola at no cost to the City of Tshwane," said Tshenkeng.

"Decode provided the office of the executive mayor with speech-writing services, which is part of our service offering that we expertly provide many of our clients," confirmed the CEO.

Political protection?

The workers also accuse the ANC and the EFF in the city's council of providing Mosola with political protection, a claim both parties have rubbished.

"The city manager is hired and fired by council the ANC doesn't interfere in administration, it cannot interfere, it only plays a role in council," said the party's regional leader, Kgosi Maepa.

"The ANC has no business or relationship with Dr Mosola, it does not meet with Dr Mosola," he tersely said.

The EFF's council leader MoAfrica Mabogwana told News24: "It's very insane, we have never protected Mosola; when you remove him, you must remove him with facts, that is what we were saying."

He complained that certain reports such as Bowmans', which were meant to provide the necessary proof of wrongdoing, never made it to council.

"The last two motions of suspensions, which were brought by former mayor Solly Msimanga we all agreed with, that we should let all the reports come to council so that when we get rid of Mosola, we do it on a basis of facts," said Mabogwana.

Mosola had also been accused of purging some staffers at the city. In March, News24 reported that the Public Protector's office was investigating the embattled city manager for abuse of power.

This after at least three former employees of the city, including former spokesperson Selby Bokaba, lodged a complaint with Mkhwebane, accusing the municipal manager of abusing the powers of his office.

New mayor, same challenges

"The executive mayor, Cllr Mokgalapa, recently appointed two unqualified directors in senior and highly paid positions in his office. They will each earn almost R1m per annum, but barely meet the requirements for the positions, which were never advertised," write the concerned employees in their letter.

Mokgalapa's predecessor also came under fire during his tenure for the unlawful appointment of some staffers.

"The DA has been preaching clean governance gospel where they govern, criticising the ANC at every turn and projecting themselves as sanctified, but Mosola's reign has exposed them that they don't practise what they preach," continued the letter.

Some members of the DA in the capital city who serve at national level have also raised concerns over the state of the party in Tshwane, Mokgalapa's caucus and how he has been running the city.

He replaced Msimanga, who stepped down ahead of the national elections and was expected to reunite what was once described as a fractured caucus and provide services to the people of Tshwane.

"Mokgalapa has honestly just been a mess," said one party insider to News24.

The source said the incumbent just sought to please those who were unhappy with his predecessor and is taking some decisions without following proper procedures or consulting with the caucus.

"He had to replace some committee chairs; that issue is hanging because he used it as an opportunity to purge people, so now that battle is playing itself out and names of committee chairs can't be taken to council," said a DA leader, who serves at a national level but has knowledge of some of the challenges Mokgalapa is facing in Tshwane.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko, who seemed to know of an attempt to communicate challenges facing the city, said no such correspondence had found its way to the president's office.

While MEC Maile confirmed to having received such a complaint, but said it was not just a Tshwane issue.

He told News24 several complaints have come from municipalities across the province and his department was working on a comprehensive plan to address the different issues being raised.

"We receive a lot of complains and allegations about how things are done, how people are employed... there are a lot of problems in our municipalities, not just Tshwane," said Maile.

"Our approach is to ensure we resolve all issues, not just one municipality. We are not even looking at who runs it, for us it's about service delivery," said Maile.

"We are just looking at whether the law's been broken, if policies were followed and if it has negative impact on service delivery," he said.

While the mayoral spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane referred News24 to the executive mayor for comment, he did not respond to questions.

Source: News24

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