“They say I’m Ngci,” says Felani Mndebele as municipality sacks him

Mndebele vows to fight until the bitter end
SHOWN THE DOOR: Fired municipal manager of the Govan Mbeki local municipality, Felani Mndebele has blamed his sacking on factional battles in the ANC. PICTURE BY GVLM

He said he will continue to fight his battles in the legal field.

Troubled municipal manager of the Govan Mbeki local municipality, Felani Mndebele, has revealed how relations became sour between him and municipal officials after being associated with the Ngci camp.

Mndebele reveals the information as the Govan Mbeki municipality sacks him, following a council resolution that Mndebele should no longer be the municipal manager.

Mndebele had been in court with the municipality at least 3 times now – first in the Labour Court and twice in the High Court.

The municipality is currently in possible contempt of court for sacking Mndebele following the Mpumalanga high court saying he should be reinstated.

A municipal council resolution sacked Mndebele a week ago and said the Govan Mbeki municipality – one of South Africa’s worst performing municipalities – was being frustrated by him to not deliver services to people.

ALSO SEE: Govan Mbeki municipality appeals decision that gave Felani Mndebele victory

“They say I’m with Ngci,” Mndebele said when he spoke to the 013NEWS reporter 21 July 2021.

This is not the first time factional battles related to the province’s much awaited conference have played out between political heads and the heads of administration in municipalities…

Last year factional battles between the ‘Focus’ and ‘Ngci’ camps almost paralysed service delivery in the Dr JS Moroka municipality. Bitter fights between then mayor Thulare Madileng and municipal manager Thami Kubheka turned bloody when gunshots went off at the gates of the municipality following months of court battles and back and forth suspensions.

SEE HERE: Madileng and Kubheka in a bitter fight for the soul of JS Moroka

The Ngci camp is aligned to deputy president David Mabuza and wants Nkangala district municipal speaker Lucky Ndinisa as provincial chair, former finance MEC Pat Ngomane as secretary well as Carolina’s David ‘Mdavu’ Nhlabathi as deputy chairman ahead of the party’s 13th provincial congress. It also wants former Ehlanzeni youth league leader Charles Ndlovu as the deputy secretary and former eMalahleni mayor Salome Sithole as treasurer.

The Govan Mbeki municipality is one of South Africa’s worst run municipalities, mentioned in this year’s report by Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke as being on a “downward  trajectory”.

Mdavu said what is happening to Mndebele is wrong.

“The same people approached Mndebele and asked him to be the municipal manager and now they are turning against him. This shows what kind of people they are, very self-centred and can betray you anytime if you no longer serve their interests. It’s not about the people anymore but certain people’s pockets,” Mdavu said.

On 27 May 2021, the Govan Mbeki council took a resolution to oppose a court judgment that ordered Mndebele be reinstated and that the disciplinary hearing findings be declared invalid.

Mndebele had taken the municipality to court after being suspended by then controversial mayor Thandi Ngxonono late last year.

ALSO SEE: Felani Mndebele reveals Thandi Ngxonono wanted him to breach municipal finance law

Ngxonono accused Mndebele of failing to deliver services to people, leaving the whole area with unremoved refuse and plunging the town into load shedding, amongst other accusations.

He was suspended and hauled before a disciplinary committee, which Mndebele took to court.

On 23 March 2021, Brauckmann found that the decision that led to Mndebele’s suspension in September 2020 was illegal and violated Mndebele’s employment rights.

ALSO SEE: Felani Mndebele reveals Thandi Ngxonono wanted him to breach municipal finance act

Judge Hein Brauckmann ordered in March 2021 that Mndebele be reinstated but then the municipality blocked Mndebele’s reinstatement with new court papers appealing the Brauckmann ruling, charging that the Judge erred because he didn’t consider that in the first place Mndebele was not supposed to go to his High Court for the matter but rather to CCMA or Labour Court.

Municipal lawyers argued in appeal papers that Brauckmann failed to consider that the same matter was dismissed by the Labour Court as it doesn’t fall within its jurisdiction but the CCMA’s, and only CCMA.

Mndebele returned to office last week of May 2021 but was sent home again when a council sitting asked that a disciplinary hearing into financial misconduct be instituted against him and was last week fired.

He had gone to court to accuse Ngxonono of having personal beef against him. Ngxonono said the reason for suspending Mndebele was because he was frustrating the delivery of services to people.

The ANCYL’s leader in the area, Gracious Shabangu, had also maintained that it was wrong to deny Mndebele the opportunity to finish his term and that the municipality was wasting money in appealing the High Court decision that ordered his reinstatement.

Meanwhile, Mndebele’s lawyers have asked the municipality to give reasons for firing him and if their decision doesn’t go against a court order.

(edited by ZK)

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