Planga takes over from MM Meiring

Makana Municipality has appointed Mandisi Planga to replace Riana Meiring as the acting municipal manager after the latter had acted in the position for more than a year. 

There were mixed feelings in Council regarding a further extension of Meiring’s acting term, which the DA was in favour of, and whether to appoint a new person to act in the position which the ANC were calling for.

The Council had to put the matter to the vote and 15 ANC councillors voted to remove a recommendation to apply for an exemption from Cogta MEC Fikile Xasa that would allow Meiring to act for a further three months. 

All eight DA councillors voted against removing the recommendation and two EFF councillors abstained. 

In his support for Meiring to continue Fargher said the significant thing was that “we have stabilised this municipality and we have a good team in place, I would like to see our acting municipal manager continue until we appoint a full time MM”.  

Matyumza on the other hand reluctantly told the Council that Meiring had been allowed to continue to act for a long time and that was not supposed to be the case. Councillor Luyanda Nase supported Matyumza saying that the Council cannot continue to re-appoint an acting municipal manager for more than three months. 

“We are a new Council and we must follow the law. The law is clear on this, we cannot allow a person to act perpetually. We cannot transgress the law,” he said. 

Councillor Siyabulela Sodladla said, “She has been paid wrongfully and she will pay back the money. She should have advised the Council.” 

Meanwhile the DA has showered acting municipal manager Meiring with praise, saying she has done very well in the job under a difficult political environment. 

Meiring has been acting in the position since mid-2015. She has been re-appointed to the position on three-month contracts since then. Yesterday the Council of Makana Municipality appointed Social Services director Mandisi Planga to act in the position for a period not longer than three months starting today.

Meiring’s last three-month extension expired yesterday. In a special Council meeting yesterday Planga was nominated by ANC chief whip Mabhuti Matyumza to act in the position for a period not exceeding three months. The nomination was seconded by the DA’s Brian Jackson.

Responding to questions from Grocott’s Mail about their opinion regarding the fact that Meiring has been acting in the position for more than a year, DA Caucus leader Mlindi Nhanha said the DA Caucus in Makana municipality would like to commend the good work done by Meiring as an acting municipal manager under very difficult political circumstances. 

“It has always been clear for all to see that she was expected to fail by inheriting an administration that was virtually in (the) Intensive Care Unit,” he said. 

Nhanha said Meiring had managed to prove those who doubted her wrong. “Fortunately she has proved her detractors wrong. Today Makana municipality is on a road to full recovery thanks to Ms Meiring. She is an example of a professional civil servant the DA encourages, regardless of her colour, gender or social orientation.

She is a true professional only here to serve,” he said. Nhanha said in their view and certainly many other people in Grahamstown, her tireless efforts in disciplining and compelling employees to be accountable for their deeds have not won her many friends and allies in some circles of organised labour. 

“The ANC is once again doing what they are notoriously known for. They are fixing something that is not broken. Here is a municipality on a road to recovery under a leadership of a qualified and competent person. We now hear they are planning not to renew her contract as an acting MM,” he said.

Meiring referred questions from Grocott’s Mail about the position to the municipality’s legal manager Nomandla Mbanjwa. Responding to questions from Grocott’s Mail about the position Mbanjwa said the process to appoint an acting municipal manager and to extend this appointment is determined by law. 

“The municipality did comply with all the requirements in terms of the Municipal Systems Act,” she said. According to section 54 (A)(2A) (a) of the Systems Act a person appointed as an acting municipal manager may not be appointed to act for a period exceeding three months.

The act further goes on to say on (2A) (b) a municipal council in special circumstances and on good cause shown, can apply in writing to the MEC for Local Government to extend the period of employment for a period not exceeding three months.

The act also makes a provision for a municipal council to request the MEC for local government to second a person to act in the position of acting municipal manager, who will be paid by the department and not by Makana.  

Responding to a question about this Mbanjwa said: “The  act  namely section 54A (6) (a) states that the municipality may request a secondment and the Council is fully aware of this. The section is not peremptory.”  

Mbanjwa said the position of a full time municipal manager was advertised and the closing date for applications closed on Thursday last week. 

Responding to a question about whether it is legal for a person to act in the position of municipal manager for more than six months, Nhanha said the act was very clear, a person can be appointed to an acting capacity for a period not exceeding three months. 

“In the event an extension is required, permission should be sought from the MEC for Local Government. There is nothing illegal in a person acting for six months or more. The precedent has been set here in Makana and elsewhere in the province,” he said. 
On the matter of Cogta seconding a person from provincial government to act in the position, Nhanha said in the past Themba Mnguni was seconded by the provincial government. 

“His pathetic performance did not inspire a shred of confidence. He left this municipality in a much more worse position than he found it. We have capable directors who have been around and they know the difficulties that we face and have been part of providing solutions without the provincial government.”

Nhanha went on to say that getting provincial government to pay the salary of a seconded person would not do Makana any good. 
“To celebrate that the salary will be paid by the provincial government is actually disingenuous. Provincial government will have to spend money on an acting MM in Makana instead of spending where it's needed most. Mnguni did not only get a salary but stayed in a guest house paid for by the taxpayer,” he said.

Provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Mamnkeli Ngam referred questions to the municipality. 
“I propose that you direct these questions to (Yoliswa Ramokolo) who is the Communicator for Makana Municipality. I am sure she will assist you.” 

National Cogta spokesperson Legadima Leso was unavailable to answer questions at the time of going to press. The EFF’s Mzwandile Qotoyi was also not available to comment at the time of going to press. Meanwhile the position of municipal manager will be re-advertised due to compliance issues. 

• The office of the Speaker Yandiswa Vara has released the dates and venues of the election of ward committees in all the wards in Makana.

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Planga takes over from MM Meiring