City boss sticks to his guns

An aerial view of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, home of the local Msunduzi Municipality.

An aerial view of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, home of the local Msunduzi Municipality.

Published Feb 25, 2024


Durban — Msunduzi municipal manager Lulamile Mapholoba attended Thursday’s executive committee meeting, the day after the ANC-dominated council gave its intention to suspend him this week.

The week’s developments in which opposition parties cried foul have left many wondering whether it was a case of a chequered past that was not declared or whether the municipal manager had started to clean up corruption in the KZN capital.

According to a report that was tabled by municipal mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla in council, Mapholoba is accused of taking unilateral decisions, unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, gross insubordination and dereliction of duties.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) welcomed the move to suspend the city manager, saying it was long overdue, and questioned why he had been appointed in the first place.

The union described his stint at local government as “a track record of failure”, expressing its satisfaction that calls for his removal had been heeded.

“His appointments at Kokstad, Mandeni and uMhlathuze ended prematurely due to performance issues. Despite these evident red flags and his role as an enabler of governance erosion, Mapoloba was unexpectedly appointed as the Msunduzi municipal manager,” said the union in a statement.

Samwu expressed the hope that Mapholoba would be suspended, resulting in “the arrest of damage that he has been inflicting on municipalities in KZN”.

Mapholoba said he was unfazed by his detractors and was committed to continuing with the job that he had been tasked to do. He dismissed the charges levelled against him, insisting that they were aimed at tarnishing his image and derailing him from his mission of cleaning up corruption in the municipality. He was equally scathing of Samwu, saying that the union had an axe to grind with him as he had dealt with some of its members during his efforts to get staff members to perform tasks they were appointed to do.

“There have been instances where I have taken Samwu members to disciplinary hearings and some have been dismissed, so I understand why they would want me gone because of my intolerance to wrongdoing,” Mapholoba said.

According to the city manager, the hastily convened sitting missed a few important steps which rendered the process null and void.

“My legal team is preparing responses and this thing will not stick because it has no basis and neither were the proper channels followed in executing the decision.

“The letter informing me about the intent to suspend was delivered by my secretary to me. As you know the municipality is under administration and any council meeting taking place must have a ministerial representative. He was not there,” Mapholoba said.

The African Christian Democratic Party expressed reservations over the move and questioned its timing.

“What is happening here is wrong and begs a question as to why he was appointed in the first place,” said the ACDP’s Rienus Niemand.

The city manager has seven working days in which to respond to the charges brought against him by the council, and the deadline coincides with the council sitting next week.

Sunday Tribune