We have learned with shock that on 19 February 2019 our council resolved to appoint one Lonwabo Ngoqo as our new municipal manager.
Longer-term residents will recall that he was Municipal Manager from about 2008-2012, at which time he was dismissed for serious financial misconduct. One of the charges being his role in the attempted purchase of Ebenezer land for R28 million, even though it was valued at R3 million. Ngoqo was found guilty and dismissed in early 2012. He won a bargaining council appeal against the finding, but the victory was short-lived as it was overturned by the Cape High Court.
By the time the appeal had been heard he had already been appointed as Municipal Manager at the Sundays River Municipality. He accepted his appointment on 29 December 2011 and commenced employment in January 2012. (While he was still awaiting his fate in Bitou he was already employed by Sunday’s River.)
Now Mayor Lobese has offered him a R1.5 million retroactive “settlement” to return to Plett as Municipal Manager. R 800k as a belated “severance package” and R700k for his legal costs!
The appointment requires ratification by the Minister of Local Government within 14 days, which is this Thursday, 14 March. We have made him aware of the situation and requested that he intervene.
Although he has not responded, we are told the Minister of Local Government told Bitou NOT to pay over the funds to Ngoqo, and if they did, he would hold the councillors who voted for it financially liable. They apparently did it anyway.
The Plett Ratepayers have been communicating with the DA Provincial leadership, requesting them to not only reject the appointment of Ngoqo, but to suspend Mayor Lobese under legislation for “Breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors.”
Per reports, Lobese has been on a spending spree since his appointment as mayor in 2016, with tens of millions in irregular expenditure at the expense of the residents of Plett. The latest being wasteful spending on entertainment, municipal housing abuse, unexplained fuel cost increases and exorbitant vehicle hire costs, to name but a few.
Mayor Lobese is costing the ratepayers millions in wasteful spending every month, with service delivery and infrastructure suffering as a result. We are also concerned about the rates and taxes increase come July.
The Plett Ratepayers Association are very involved and will keep you informed as this continues to unfold.