By ROD AMNER
- At Thursday’s chaotic council meeting, outgoing Makana Municipal manager Moppo Mene’s contract was extended for three months after the municipality failed to advertise his post in time.
- The Makana Citizens Front (MCF) Proportional Representation councillors again voted with the ANC to extend the contract of the man they launched a mass protest against in 2021.
- The 363-page agenda for the meeting – containing crucial information about the municipality’s Financial Recovery Plan, annual financial report, and supply chain management report – was sent to councillors at the last minute, in breach of municipal bylaws.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) is furious about several alleged breaches of municipal bylaws at Thursday’s chaotic Makana Council meeting, which was held virtually.
Twenty councillors, including the five ‘new’ Makana Citizens Front (MCF) PR councillors, voted to extend the contract of outgoing Municipal Manager Moppo Mene, who was due to leave the post on 31 July. There was one abstention, and one councillor was absent.
The vacancy for Mene’s position was advertised on Sunday 24 July, just one week before the end of his term.
DA caucus leader Luvuyo Sizani said he had communicated through WhatsApp with Executive Mayor Yandiswa Vara about the contract expiration on 7 June. “We asked what plans she had to expedite the process – and the only response I got from her was four laughing emojis,” Sizani said.
“The Mayor failed in her responsibility – the process of advertising the position should have been expedited. I am suspicious that this was deliberate on her side,” Sizani said.
“We raised our concern at Council. She tried to justify the delays, but her arguments did not convince us. The director of Corporate Services was blamed.”
“ANC councillors are not interested in improving this town if they vote to extend the contract of a person who has failed,” he said. Mene has presided over three consecutive disclaimed Auditor-General reports.
Sizani also said the DA was “very disappointed” by the stance of the new MCF councillors. “We hoped they would align themselves with issues of concern. This is the second time they are voting with the ANC. What are their voters going to think?
“The MCF marched to City Hall in 2021 to say the Municipal Manager must go. Now they had an opportunity to get rid of him, and they voted with the ANC,” he said.
Flouting of municipal bylaws
Sizani said that the notice for a special council meeting is at least five days, but councillors were issued with agendas less than 24 hours before the meeting.
“Our agenda was 363 pages long, and we received it less than 24 hours before the council meeting. So we could not go through the agenda on time,” Sizani said.
DA Ward 4 councillor Geoff Embling said the word ‘notice’ means more than informing councillors that there will be a meeting – “it includes providing the agenda”.
Embling said the meeting on 28 July should be classified as an ordinary council meeting and not a special meeting because it contains a 363-page agenda with ordinary matters, plus one special confidential item.
“Holding a meeting for the 363-page agenda breaches Rule 4, sub-rule (2) of the bylaws, which states, ‘A request in terms of sub-rule (2) to call a special meeting must set out the matter or matters to be dealt with at that special meeting. No business other than that specified in the notice convening a special meeting or set out in the request referred to in sub-rule (2) may be dealt with at the special meeting concerned’,” Embling said.
Included in the agenda were supply chain management issues, the Financial Recovery Plan and the Annual Financial Report – all matters that require substantial time to digest.
Sizani said the DA raised objections in Council. “But, they said they would not be’ compliant’ if we don’t go ahead with the agenda. We, therefore, decided not to participate in that item on the agenda.”
Embling said no “matter or matters to be dealt with” were set out for the councillors when they first received notice of the special council meeting, and they only learned of the matters 24 hours before the meeting.
Embling said the Makana Municipality Speaker Mthuthuzeli Matyumza had been “breaking the bylaws and cancelling, reconvening, giving late notices and not tabling our motions all year”.
“It makes council chaotic, and if it continues, we will have to vote for no confidence in him again and take this further with litigation,” Embling said. “He can’t break bylaws with no consequences.”
“The Speaker’s prime goal seems to be to ram things through council at short notice and get rid of any public participation.”