The municipality of Govan Mbeki has again terminated the employment contract of Mr. Felani Mndebele after a long legal battle. The board made this decision at a special virtual board meeting held on Friday July 16.
Mr. Mndebele had been suspended as a precaution with full pay, as recommended by the former executive mayor of Govan Mbeki, Ms. Thandi Ngxonono, who accused him and his officials of negligence by failing to provide services to residents.
Mr Mndebele challenged the suspension and sued GMM.
There were also allegations that Mr Mndebele and his officials failed to provide services to residents due to negligence, such as daily load shedding, lack of garbage removal and serious delay in most services that the municipality is supposed to provide people.
In the meantime, Ms. Lizzy Shabalala has been appointed interim municipal director. The Middelburg High Court ruled that Mr Mndebele had been unlawfully suspended and that the proceedings against him on October 16 last year were illegal.
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GMM and its president (second defendant) were ordered to pay Mr. Mndebele’s legal costs, but the leaders of Govan Mbeki municipality decided to appeal the court’s decision.
The Middleburg High Court then dismissed GMM’s leave to appeal against Mr. Mndebele with costs.
This was not the end of the battle, however. When Mr. Mndebele tried to return to work, he received the boot again.
The executive mayor of the municipality of Govan Mbeki, Mr. Nlakanipho Zuma, said Peak time As of last month, Mr Mndebele was still suspended pending his case and the municipality was complying with the High Court ruling to properly charge him. This means that they charged Mr Mndebele with a 2014 regulation, not the 2010 regulation.
The council then sent Mr. Zuma to Mr. Mndebele with a settlement proposal to leave the municipality, but this was rejected on July 14. Mr Mndebele’s lawyers wrote a letter to Mr Zuma in which he rejected the proposal.
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It was also stated that Mr. Mndebele no longer wished to participate in further settlement negotiations with the municipality and that as far as they were concerned, nothing prevented their client (Mr. Mndebele) from returning to work.
They said Mr. Mndebele would report to work on Monday July 19 and that in the event that the municipality prevented or obstructed such an event, the municipality and its officials would be charged with contempt of court.
They also have instructions to sue the municipality to compensate their client for any losses they have suffered as a result of a breach of contract, including any legal fees incurred by their client.
This currently stands at around R2-million. The board nonetheless decided at an extraordinary virtual board meeting on July 16 to fire Mr. Mndebele. Mr. James Masango, DAAdvisor, said the ANC decision was a “thug”.
“An employee can only be dismissed through proper procedures, namely labor disciplinary procedures, the CCMA or a court.
“The City Manager has not been subjected to or convicted of any of the above cases. The ANC recommends starting a process for appointing a new MM without first getting rid of the current mayor through an appropriate process. Very soon, the municipality will pay two municipal managers, one sitting in
at home and another at work.
Mr. Masango said the municipality may stop paying Mr. Mndebele for now, but the court will order the municipality to pay him all unpaid wages with interest.
“The ANC is just wasting taxpayer money when the municipality is already bankrupt.
“We will continue to support the community interest and the rule of law,” said Mr. Masango.
EFF said ANC advisers, especially the mayor, were jumping to conclusions in Mr Mndebele’s case.
“How can you fire someone because of a deteriorated relationship, the mayor is misleading the council, but Mr Mndebele will win again,” said Thabiso Mofokeng, EFF adviser.
A total of 25 ANC advisers voted in favor of the decision and 15 advisers from opposition parties voted against.
Some ANC advisers are said to have left the virtual meeting before the decision to sack the suspended city manager was made.