Last Wednesday the Labour Appeal Court (‘LAC’) heard argument in the Ngoqo case. The question before it whether the Council acted lawfully when, in 2019, it appointed Mr Ngoqo as Municipal Manager, the post at the very apex of the municipality.
A statutory ban exists on the re-employment of senior officials previously dismissed by a municipality for financial misconduct. Before the Labour Court, the MEC, Mr Bredell, successfully invoked this provision to disqualify Ngoqo who, while previously the Bitou municipal manager, had been dismissed by a retired Judge of Appeal at the conclusion of a protracted enquiry in which, in the face of his perjured testimony, he was found to have acted without ‘fidelity, honesty, and integrity’ and against the best interests of the municipality.
The opposition to the application was, until the eleventh hour, provided exclusively by the Municipality and has, needless to say, been funded out of our rates and taxes. One issue the LAC will have to decide is whether Ngoqo, who belatedly joined in the case, should actually be picking up the tab for the legal costs. The PBRRA was permitted to participate in the proceedings as a friend of the court (‘amicus’), and the submissions made by our Senior Counsel were expressly welcomed as helpful.
We expect judgment in the next few weeks. If, as we anticipate, the court upholds the decision to terminate his services, the Constitutional Court provides a potential last port of call, but only if it agrees to hear the matter.
Upon his removal, supposing this eventuates, the focus will be on his replacement. We will, you can be sure, be carefully monitoring the process to ensure that the best person is appointed to the job.