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Makana has finally ended its bitter relationship with municipal manager Ntombi Baart after reaching a compromise with her lawyers in the interest of stability and service delivery for the people of Makana.
Baart was suspended in May and various officials have been appointed to take up the slack, receiving an additional R27 000 a month as acting municipal manager. She was officially sent on her way effective from the end of last month - 11 months before her contract ends - after the two parties signed an agreement.
In a press briefing on Wednesday Executive Mayor Zamuxolo Peter said the municipality and Baart's lawyers had reached an agreement to terminate Baart's contract with immediate effect. "We have called this session to officially bring all speculation to finality. We want to communicate this officially to the community of Makana and the ratepayers the process of the disciplinary action against the Municipal Manager Ms Baart," Peter said.
"The hearing was scheduled to start on the 25th and run to the 28th of last month, but our lawyers were approached by Baart's lawyers to present a deal... by law they are allowed to engage outside of court and make a settlement," said Peter.
Makana's counsel, Smith Tabata attorneys, had considered the offer and their report was tabled in a confidential session within the council meeting on 25 September.
"All councillors were given time to look into the report and consider it, and we then had a special council meeting on the 27th to make a decision about the report. We decided unanimously that terminating Ms Baart's contract will be in the interest of stability and service delivery for the people of Makana. But the report remains confidential, as it is a legal binding document between the two parties," Peter said.
The Mayor said Baart's contract was a fixed-term contract which ends in August next year. While on suspension she had been paid her full salary. "We feel this will assist us to save more money," Peter said.
She will be paid her two months' salary for October and November and all her benefits. Peter said it had been agreed that the terms of the settlement remain confidential and that no third party should be involved.
"We have acted responsibly as an institution. You know our main concern was the audit outcomes and the Municipal Manager: the buck stops with her in terms of being accountable," Peter said.
"We can also confirm that the institution is stable. I had a session with the senior management team and we communicated this decision and they indicated their commitment to serve our people. We further requested them to provide support to the new acting municipal manager Thembinkosi Emmanuel Myalato."
He said the position of Municipal Manager would be advertised within two weeks of Baart's contract being terminated. Until then, the municipality is paying an allowance to the acting municipal manager - currently Thembinkosi Myalato - of around R 27 000 a month.
This is in addition to the incumbent's existing salary package. Asked for details of the charges against Baart, the Mayor said only that the municipality believed it had a strong case. Baart, he said diplomatically, may have believed the same.
"We hope that the person who will be municipal manager will be the best to take this institution forward," he said.