A Limpopo municipality is haemorrhaging cash and is about to lose an extra R2 million in a space of two weeks, thanks to its managers’ rash decisions regarding employees.
City Press reported on Sunday how politicians in a strife-torn Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse municipality paid R1.4 million owed to an employee who was unfairly dismissed in 2016.
The sheriff had already attached and removed the Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse municipality’s four trucks and four graders valued at R1.5 million when it decided to comply with SA Local Bargaining Council commissioner Richard Sithi’s award to former human resources manager Charity Rabada.
And now the municipal council, situated in the platinum-rich Burgersfort town, has withdrawn a review application in the Labour Court over a South African Local Bargaining Council award to another former employee, senior building inspector Shadrack Sithodolo.
Sithodolo was dismissed for misconduct in May 2017 for approving the construction of a business building before the council approved the plans. He said his dismissal was unfair because this had been done previously and was allowed.
When he received his award, to be reinstated by June 18 last year, the council decided to take the matter on review. The council withdrew the application this week, apparently to avoid more fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Sithodolo said that he was not sure how much he had to be paid as this was still to be determined, but it is estimated to be in the region of R2 million.
“It’s not clear, I’m lost. The amount is still to be calculated,” he said. Sithodolo is expected to go back to work tomorrow.
Read: Payout, after payout, after payout – employees, contractors walk away with millions from municipality
Municipal spokesperson Thabiso Mokwena would not be drawn into details.
“The municipality has reached a settlement in relation to the Shadrack Sithodolo case and the employee is expected to resume work soon and the matter is closed in this regard. No further communication will be issued in order to respect the rights of the parties involved,” Mokwena said.
Last week, Rabada returned to work after she was dismissed for gross insubordination in September 2016, which the South African Local Bargaining Council found was unfair. The council ordered that Rabada be paid R1.4 million and be reinstated.
In Rabada’s case, the council also tried taking the matter on review in the Labour Court and its application was found to be defective. It then dragged its feet over payment until the sheriff attached the municipality’s trucks and graders.
Sekhukhune ANC chairperson and district mayor, Stan Ramaila, has admitted that the municipality was in a crisis and said that the ANC was speaking to Limpopo co-operative governance MEC, Basikopo Makamu, to second officials to assist the municipality.
City Press understands that the council, whose administration has suffered instability over the past five years as a result of chopping and changing of municipal managers, has taken a resolution to hold officials responsible for these unsuccessful labour cases accountable.
Socialist Agenda of Dispossessed Africans (SADA) councillor, Tumelo Molapo, said that Sithodolo’s case had not been discussed in council, but Rabada’s case was.
“We took a decision that consequence management must be applied … those in labour relations and legal department must be held accountable for the sheriff’s costs and must pay from their own pockets. Who gave the wrong advice that led to the sheriff attaching the municipality’s assets?” Molapo said.
The sheriff’s costs and interests are about R300 000. City Press has seen municipal council’s minutes approving the payment of R1 701 995,78 in Rabada’s case.
Mokwena declined to respond to questions seeking to get clarity if the municipality will target the responsible officials and take punitive action against them either for ill-advising the municipality or recovering the costs.
However, the council’s minutes indicate that implicated officials must be investigated and action be taken against them.
The minutes read: “Council notes and approves that investigation be made to establish the insurgent of the delay and subsequent removal of the municipal property and that consequent management be implemented coupled with the recovery of the costs therein.”
“The acting municipal manager must on the cause of the negligence which brings the corporate image of the municipality into disrepute … consequence management be applied to the implicated officials.”
The situation at Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse has been deteriorating even though the Special Investigations Unit has been probing maladministration over the past four years.
The Limpopo cabinet placed the municipality under administration for six months this year but there has been no improvement.
“The council,” said Molapo, “has not received any progress reports from the SIU and the administrator and nothing changes.”
Over and above the bungling of labour cases, the municipality is burdened by mismanagement of contracts, has made double payments and also incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure exceeding R200 million. The municipality lost R230 million which was invested in the controversial VBS bank.
The curious case of R8.8 million overpayment to contractor
City Press has obtained documents indicating that the municipality hired TT Property Consultants in 2014 for the compilation of the valuation roll for a total amount of R2.9 million.
However, records indicated that the company received a bonanza of R11.7 million. There was no variation of the contract amount approved by council in terms of the supply chain policy.
Molapo said that the matter has not been resolved to date since it was brought before council in June last year.