Dear Mr Mpahlwa
We wish to refer to the public announcement of your intention to establish a Mayoral Advisory Council (MAC) in Grocotts Mail: 26 April 2019 – pg 4. Having read and applied my mind to the article I am moved to share my thoughts and the thoughts of many citizens of Makhanda with you… In principle and on the surface the MAC appears to be a good thing but reading between the lines, once again, the devil lies in the detail…
Why your proposed MAC is a flawed proposal:
- The community was not consulted about your appointment or that of the current Municipal Manager…
- It is not that the MAC is unacceptable; it is the authoritarian manner in which you have proposed the MAC be established. I quote – “I (the mayor) will put together a committee of three councillors to sift through nominations and recommend to me the selected 14 members”.
- The MAC nominees will be vetted by three councillors of your choice and that you will have the final say in the MAC composition. Population demographics (not expertise, experience or representational strength) appear to be the principal criteria on which potential MAC members will be appointed.
There are 17 out of 27 party-political councillors, who are members of the current regime. All 17 of these councillors (11 elected and 6 party-list PR councillors, including you) voted to oppose the community’s High Court application for the dissolution of the Makana Council and for fresh municipal elections to be held. In other words, it is clearly obvious the MAC will be a body, which will be chosen, more for their political affiliation rather than being true community chosen and approved representatives.
- The 14 “volunteer” residents will sit on a non-statutory body with no legislative or legal standing – this is quite unacceptable.
- Moreover, the proposed MAC members will meet at your convenience and are restricted in making public statements.
The conflict of interest and crisis of legitimacy is obvious. I consider the proposed MAC an attempt to silence and co-opt community members to be part of an ineffectual talk-shop under the guise of a legitimate citizen representative body.
There is a need for substantive engagement and for the Makana Municipality to stop ignoring the demands of the Makhanda community. There should be no need for a toothless advisory body. There is ample information to understand the basic requirements to address this failed municipality. For your reminder, I refer you to the publicised 2017 documentation (and job specification) calling for the appointment of a Municipal Commercial Turnaround Specialist to be appointed and approved by the community. The most urgent requirement following your deployment was to appoint the necessary skilled people, based on track-record and merit who are non-partisan, independent and capable. In this most critical of tasks, you have failed the community of Makhanda.
An alternative proposal – a Municipal Oversight Council (MOC):
- A Municipal Oversight Council (‘MOC”) be formed comprising you and supported representatives from Makana civil society NPO, PBO bodies, education and tourism sectors.
- The MOC to be granted oversight powers including but not limited to:
- Ensuring the immediate advertising and appointment of a Municipal Commercial Turnaround Specialist in line with the 2017 public documentation, which was supported by the Premier’s office and vetting criteria in b) and c) below;
- The right to approve the advertisement wording for any senior municipal operational management appointment (MM and Director level) in line with the municipal systems’ laws and regulations.
- The right to 3 seats on the interview and vetting panel for any senior municipal operational management appointment (MM and Director Level) in line with municipal systems’ laws and regulations.
- The supported right to negotiate specific performance-based contracts and oversee the performance of the mentioned senior management to ensure their adherence to reasonable outcomes, designated duties and responsibilities.
- The right to institute and oversee disciplinary procedures and or/remedial action towards the mentioned current and future senior management.
- The right to monitor the performance of the 27 councillors (in line with their lawful elected and appointed responsibilities) and to report to the represented political parties on councillor performance where required.
- To ensure that you engage with the Makhanda community consistently and spend the majority of your time in the Makana municipal area.
Please understand the goals and interests of the Makhanda community should be represented and aligned with those of the Makana Municipality. The state of our town, the Sec 139 court application to have the existing Makana Municipality Council dissolved, the Kabuso Report and the bad, one-sided decisions of the Makana Municipality Council over the years do not reflect the goals and interests of the Makhanda community at large.
We appeal to you to take a true step toward democracy by empowering the community of Makhanda by forming an MOC instead of an MAC.
Dr Dittmar Eichhoff and 22 130 signatories
Editor’s note: Letter shortened