Premier’s ultimatum to municipal managers a mere publicity stunt

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza’s latest announcement that all municipal managers signed commitment letters agreeing to be removed if their municipalities received disclaimed audit opinions, is completely misguided and a mere publicity stunt in the run-up to next year’s elections.

Municipal managers are appointed by municipal councils, and as such, are accountable to council. Furthermore, legislation demands that municipal managers enter into performance agreements with the local council on commencement of employment.

By “forcing” municipal managers to sign these commitment letters, which can be regarded as performance agreements, the premier violates municipal legislation governing the relationship between municipal managers and councils, as well as the division between local and provincial spheres of government.

The fact is that municipal governance in Mpumalanga is in a bad state, with only two municipal managers and three Chief Financial Officers compliant with National Treasury’s minimum competency guidelines, and the premier has to choose between party political alliances and the needs of the people.

With only seven months to go before South Africans head for the polls, the premier is only now trying to solve the issues he should have tackled when he assumed office in 2009, but remained silent while the ANC deployed its cronies to senior positions in municipalities they were not qualified for.

Only time will tell if the premier will act in his own political interests or those of four million of Mpumalanga’s citizens.