The City of Tshwane finds itself embroiled in a situation where embattled city manager Moeketsi Mosola and chief operating officer James Murphy are, in principle, both city managers effective from the beginning of this month.
This is in accordance with council resolutions passed a fortnight ago, which envisaged a scenario where, council having approved a proposed separation settlement with Mosola and him signing it as per the written agreement proposed and presented to him on July 25, Murphy would have then swiftly stepped in to fill the void as of August 1.
However, it is unclear whether Murphy did sign documents affirming his appointment as municipal manager.
Mosola has since backtracked on the offer, which was widely reported to be a golden handshake worth R7 million, and the city finds itself in a deadlock until such time as he signs the separation settlement or council rescinds its resolution to appoint Murphy.
This debacle appears to have been caused by Tshwane Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa’s administration having been overly certain that Mosola would sign the agreement, hence the haste in settling on his replacement before he had signed on the dotted line.
The latest dilemma follows just a week after the metro weathered a protracted municipal workers strike that dragged on for almost two weeks.
DA Tshwane regional chairperson Abel Tau, who was acting mayor last week while Mokgalapa was in China to view smart cities, courtesy of technology giant Huawei, told City Press that he could not implement the council’s resolution because of the deadlock.
“I could not implement the decision to have James Murphy act [as city manager] because there was still Mosola as city manager, since he did not sign the separation settlement [as he was expected to have done by July 31],” said Tau.
“This automatically means he is still the incumbent. This is where we find ourselves, in a position where Mosola has not yet signed the separation package and the council has taken a resolution that James Murphy is acting city manager.”
Tau said council was in charge of “appointing and, obviously, dismissing” municipal employees and as acting mayor he had taken a decision to grant Mosola special leave while contacting council speaker Katlego Mathebe, requesting a special council.
“When you cannot implement a council decision you must then go back to them and say: ‘Council, I am not in breach of the resolutions taken, but my hands are tied and I cannot implement these decisions.’
“I then asked for a special council so that council could rescind the resolution that Murphy would act in Mosola’s stead. I also granted Mosola special leave, as he had been on sick leave prior to that, to give his legal team and that of the city time to iron out whatever needs to be ironed,” said Tau.
He added that he believed that an amicable separation would be reached because “Mosola has indicated that he wants to leave the city and give mayor Mokgalapa a chance to start afresh because we [the City of Tshwane] have been in the news for all manner of things that we should not be in the news for”.
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Mayoral spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane, speaking to City Press on Friday, disputed the fact that the city was facing a precarious situation.
“There was never a council resolution appointing James Murphy. The mayor merely nominated him. However, since Mosola has not signed the separation settlement, that nomination can no longer be carried forward.
“Given the Auditor-General’s report flagging Murphy [surrounding a R5 million grant payment to a not-for-profit organisation while he was employed at Ekhuruleni municipality], his nomination was rightfully placed on hold.”
In correspondence seen by City Press’ sister news platform News24, Murphy wrote to the municipality’s group audit and risk department to find out whether he was indeed under investigation.
“On Monday, Murphy was told by the municipality’s chief auditor he had been cleared of wrongdoing a long time ago,” reported News24.
A source close to the negotiations has reliably told City Press that Mosola backtracked on signing the separation agreement until such a time as the city agreed on a clause forbidding the City of Tshwane from making negative public utterance on his alleged involvement in the controversial R12 billion GladAfrica tender.
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