Municipality appeals Felani Mndebele’s court victory

Municipality appeals Felani Mndebele's court victory
VICTORIOUS: Govan Mbeki municipal manager Felani Mndebele (R) has been ordered by the Mpumalanga High Court to return to work. PICTURE BY GMM

The municipality argues that the man was not supposed to go to the high court in the first place, but rather the CCMA.

The Govan Mbeki local municipality in Secunda is currently at the Mpumalanga High Court appealing a judgment that gave its municipal manager Felani Mndebele a court victory against the municipality in March 2021.

Lawyers representing the municipality says Judge Hein Brauckmann erred in his judgment in the matter of the municipality vs Mndebele delivered on 23 March 2021 where he found that the decision that led to Mndebele’s suspension as municipal manager in late 2020 was unlawful and violated his employment rights.

The court also found that the disciplinary committee to which Mndebele was subjected was not properly constituted and therefore its findings are invalid.

They were also ordered to pay R1 million for Mndebele’s legal costs and uplift the suspension but the municipality says that won’t happen.

ALSO SEE: Thandi Ngxonono used to threaten Felani Mndebele if he didnt take instructions contravening finance management act

In court papers municipal lawyers say the matter that Mndebele went to court for is an employment issue and should have instead gone to the CCMA.

The lawyers say Mndebele had already gone to the Labour Court against the municipality’s disciplinary process and there are “other avenues for defending his position in the disciplinary enquiry or referring an urgent dispute of unfair labour practice to the CCMA”.

Also the Judge erred when he ruled that the municipality’s disciplinary hearing was unlawful on account of breach of Mndebele’s contract because the employment contract states that there should be a disciplinary hearing on employees where all issues will be exhausted and if that fails the issue be referred to the CCMA, the lawyers said.

They added that Judge Brauckmann failed to consider that the same matter was dismissed at the Labour Court as it doesn’t fall within that jurisdiction, rather the CCMA.

When suspending Mndebele last year, the municipality said he was failing to deliver services to people.

But Mndebele himself argued that his suspension had more to do with his fight with former mayor Thandi Ngxonono, who made his job as administrative head difficult.

He said Ngxonono used to intervene in his job and ordered him to do things that in actuality contravened the municipality’s finance management act, such as the issue of tenderprenuers that Ngxonono allegedly preferred.

Ngxonono resigned as mayor last year October when a forensic investigation report released by the department of co-operative governance recommended actions be taken against her for her interference in the employment of staff at the municipality.

SACP provincial deputy secretary Nhlazanipho Zuma was named as the new mayor, but then Zuma controversially announced Ngxonono in her cabinet as new MMC in the department of planning.

(edited by ZK)
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