Appointment of Director of FinanceJanuary 16, 2023
Letter To MemaniJanuary 21, 2023
I don’t need to tell you that over the years Plett has suffered from very poor decision making by the various councils we have entrusted with the running of our affairs; you see and feel it every day. The upshot is, as we all know, that tens of millions of rands have been misspent, squandered and just plain stolen, plunging the municipality into near fatal financial collapse. Effective and affordable “service delivery” remains a pipe dream. We also face the prospect of even greater debt if the council goes ahead with securing the R38m loan we informed you about. This loan is the direct result of mismanagement, incompetence and total inability to remove wastage and inefficiencies from our cost structure.
Past poor appointments of officials.
An example of Council’s recent poor decisions is the aborted appointment of Mr. Mapeyi as CFO earlier this month.
As a reminder, former CFO Dyushu resigned under a cloud, and CFO Mkhefa is in jail for fraud against his previous employer and thankfully is no longer with us but in jail in the Free State.
We also had the former MM Ngoqo who had been dismissed by this municipality in 2012 for serious financial irregularities, then was re-hired in 2019. This led to legal action during which the RA put our members’ money where its mouth is and played a valuable role in ridding our town of Mr. Ngoqo.
Mr. Ngoqo had to be replaced as Municipal Manager and under the circumstances, we kept a close watch.
We watched the months long process carefully but despite our expressed misgivings and objections, Mr. Memani was appointed to the position by the new council.
Mr Memani had worked for Knysna municipality where our initial enquiries revealed he had been the subject of an investigation and serious disciplinary charges were about to be instituted. We warned the mayor but he elected to defend the appointment of Mr Memani. When we asked to see Mr Memani’s application and whether he had disclosed pending disciplinary action against him in Knysna we were stonewalled.
Three days after the above article was published Mr Memani was appointed by the Bitou council and in the 10 months that he has held the position, there is no evidence of improved financial management. In fact we have deteriorated further. The rumblings of past malfeasance persist.
Appointment of Mr. Mapeyi as CFO.
Against that backdrop, we watched the appointment of a new CFO very carefully.
Obviously an entity on the brink of insolvency, such as Bitou municipality, needs an exceptional CFO who has the capability and a proven track record to arrest the situation and turn it around promptly and effectively.
The whole expensive and time-consuming recruitment process commenced and the preferred candidate was one Christopher Mapeyi who was appointed by council in October 2022 to commence duties on 1 January 2023.
Mr Mapeyi was in the employ of the Chris Hani Municipality in the Eastern Cape, a province known for its poor governance at all levels, as CFO. The municipality in particular has been run into the ground and is a disastrous basket case. Its 2021 audit and the unaudited financial report for 2022 reveal a shocking state of affairs and management.
We were horrified by this choice and have done everything in our power to understand the reasoning for this decision. To that end we have repeatedly asked the mayor to provide us with information including application forms, CVs, members of the selection committee, etc.
To put it mildly, we have been given the run around; our repeated requests for information have been largely ignored. Based on the information we have been able to gather for ourselves, we have been very vocal in our opposition to this appointment and have remained resolute in our demands for the information. (see link below)
Whether as a result of the noise we created or not, Mr Mapeyi failed to show up to take up the position on 3 January. We were advised of this by the mayor and informed that Mr Mapeyi had repudiated his employment contract by not turning up to work
Unfortunately our senior counsel advised that in labour law it does not amount to a repudiation and the employment contract remains in place until Mr. Mapeyi officially resigns.
In any event it seems that Mr Mapeyi may have decided against the risk of close scrutiny we were trying to bring to bear. If that is so we had a lucky escape.
Of course, this means the whole expensive, time-consuming process will have to be started over. Critical financial decisions regarding our insolvency will be delayed yet again.
Given the above expensive fiascos it is evident that the selection process and hiring decisions are totally flawed. Our ability to help avoid future bad decisions is limited if we are constantly denied access to the necessary information and are not present during the interviews and deliberations.
To this end we will submit a formal request that an RA representative be given all the relevant documentation before interviews take place and “observer” status at all interviews and deliberations related to appointments of senior officials.
We are pleased that our intervention brought Mr Mapeyi’s shortcomings to the attention of the Municipality and, we believe, contributed to his failure to accept his appointment. We will continue to press for more transparency in the selection process.
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