The process of appointing the City of Tshwane's new city manager Moeketsi Mosola is being questioned and mayor Solly Msimanga is now accused of not following proper procedures.
Mosola was appointed to the position on January 26 during a council meeting. Msimanga said Mosola was nominated for the position following a comprehensive and stringent nomination process.
Msimanga's decision is being questioned after he decided to give Mosola the job, despite Mosola not having been on the initial shortlist. Five people were shortlisted for the position following interviews in 2016 but in January, four additional candidates were added after Msimanga said he was not satisfied with the initial list.
"The initial process started and the mayor was not happy with the names on the list. He asked the council to extend the process so that he could apply his mind. The panel then re-evaluated the pool of applicants and he [Mosola] was added," said mayoral spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi.
The ANC caucus in Tshwane is however crying foul over the process. ANC spokesperson Lesego Makhubela said Msimanga was supposed to re-advertise the position if he was not happy with the shortlisted candidates.
"The city did not re-advertise the position. The person did not apply for the position. They headhunted the person to be city manager and that is not allowed," he said.
Among the initial five candidates was Lindiwe Kwele, who was the deputy city manager under the previous administration, and was appointed in an acting capacity when former city manager Jason Ngobeni left. There was also Johannes Leibbrandt, who held the position of deputy city manager in Ekurhuleni between 2002 and 2010. They both met all the required criteria for the position.
They were however overlooked and Mosola was chosen, although he has no local government experience and has fewer qualifications than the other two.
Although Msimanga was not satisfied with the candidates on the initial shortlist, Kwele was recommended and placed as the second preferred candidate should Mosola decline the job offer.
The metro managers and municipal managers are usually hired on contracts linked to the term of the political administration, so many of these positions became vacant after the August 2016 local government elections.
While there is thus clearly space for a new council to have a favoured candidate, the municipal law sets certain minimum standards for the job. Regulations in terms of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act of 2000 stipulate that a person appointed as municipal manager must at least have the prescribed skills, expertise, competencies and qualifications. The law also states that a decision to appoint a person as municipal manager and any contract concluded between the municipal council and that person in consequence of the decision, is null and void if the person appointed does not meet those minimum standards.
According to a Tshwane human resources department report dated January 26 and tabled in the council, the Tshwane job was advertised in July and September last year, 160 people applied and five were shortlisted for interviews in November; Mosola was not among those interviewed. After that another four candidates were shortlisted for interviews on January 23, which led to Mosola's appointment three days later on a five-year contract. The report indicates that Mosola, 46, has an MA in economics from the University of Houston, is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria and has climbed Kilimanjaro. He was since 2009 the chief executive of Imperial Holdings' tourism and passenger transport division and, before that, the CEO of South African Tourism, but has no local government experience.
Mgobozi defended the move by Msimanga, by saying there were conditions that meant the position did not need to be re-advertised despite the shortlisted candidates not satisfying the mayor's needs.
"The panel is within its right to re-visit the list of original applicants and select from there. The mayor used his discretion and wanted to start his term on a clean slate [by not appointing Kwele]," he said.
When asked why Mosola was appointed despite not having knowledge of council operations or local government experience, Mgobozi said: "Some things are a requirement and others are an advantage."