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ANC threatens to fire councillors unless 2010 kingpin reinstated

The African National Congress (ANC) is ordering Mpumalanga’s capital city to re-instate a municipal manager who was suspended almost one year ago for maladministration.
Mbombela municipal manager Jacob Dladla was suspended in February after defying 361 council resolutions and approving a string of questionable tenders relating to Nelspruit’s controversial R1 billion 2010 stadium.
Dladla also spearheaded the municipality’s illegal seizure of a farm-worker community’s land for the stadium, without declaring his business interests with one of the deal’s beneficiaries.
Dladla’s management of the city was so bad, an independent audit report found, that service delivery imploded, prompting residents to rebel and march on the legislature.
The farm-worker community who lost their land to the stadium meanwhile secured an interdict against the city.
The crisis forced the provincial government to place the entire council under curatorship, while the ANC fired the executive mayor, Justice Nsibande.
The ANC’s regional executive committee (REC) has, however, now issued a formal instruction to Mbombela mayor Lassy Chiwayo to immediately reinstate Dladla.
REC minutes from the meeting indicate that ANC leaders conceded that Dladla was a disastrous manager, and had endangered the province’s 2010 preparations, but insisted that he should have been “counselled” instead of being suspended.
Dismissing the 181-page forensic report by Ngobe Nkosi Attorneys as “full of contradictions”, the REC also insisted that all disciplinary charges and legal proceedings against Dladla be dropped.
ANC councillors have been warned that they could be removed from office if they defy the instructions.
The Ngobe Nkosi report says that Dladla repeatedly refused to cooperate with investigators, that he illegally had the hard drive on his laptop wiped, and that officials were intimidated.
The report confirmed, however, that Dladla routinely ignored resolutions from the municipality’s highest decision-making body, the council, and that he also refused to hold himself accountable to the council.
Mbombela’s ANC chief whip Wilson Nkosi tabled the REC instructions for Dladla’s reinstatement as a formal motion in council last week, but was prevented from calling a vote on the issue when officials pointed out that he had failed to follow proper procedure.
Nkosi was therefore forced to retract the motion and advised to table it at Mbombela’s next council meeting in early 2009.
Nkosi was unavailable to comment on the matter. ANC REC deputy chairman Peter Nyoni initially tried to deny that the party had discussed Dladla at all.
After learning that the REC recommendations and minutes had been publicly tabled in council, however, Nyoni conceded that the matter had been discussed “in broad terms”, but declined to comment further on internal party affairs.
Dladla also declined to comment, saying that he was still a municipal employee and was therefore gagged from discussing official business.
He continues to fight his suspension and briefly attended a scheduled two-day disciplinary hearing starting last Wednesday before walking out midway. He failed to arrive at all on Thursday.
Mbombela’s advocate, Johan du Preez, said on Friday that the walkout was only the latest in a series of apparent delay tactics. The hearings continued hearing evidence after Dladla left, and is expected to make its ruling in a week.

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