THE race for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipal manager post has been rocked by controversy yet again, as a dark cloud hangs over two of the final four shortlisted candidates who were suspended from their respective municipalities.
This means that the entire process of searching for a city manager could be restarted because one of the remaining two eligible candidates withdrew his application and the other does not have the experience of running a municipality.
It comes at a time when acting municipal manager Themba Hani’s contract expired earlier this month and a faction of the ANC and opposition parties are refusing to have it renewed.
They are pushing for the metro’s head of health, Dr Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni, to be appointed as the acting municipal manager in the interim.
The post has been vacant since 2009.
Two sources, who were privy to the interview process, said the search was likely to begin afresh.
The four shortlisted candidates are: Thandeka Mali, the former director of corporate services at Ndlambe Municipality; Jackson Ngcelwane, who is the former chief financial officer of Makana Municipality; former Amathole District municipal manager Dr Vuyo Mlokoti; and Luzuko Mdunyelwa, who is the director for strategic and corporate services at the Stellenbosch Municipality.
One of the sources said: "The four have not yet been interviewed, but according to their qualifications they were found to be the most qualified for the job.
"Before we could even take this process forward, it emerged that two of the candidates, Mali and Ngcelwana, were suspended from their jobs.
"The man who would have been perfect for the job, Dr Mlokoti, withdrew his application because he got a job at the Tshwane Municipality in Pretoria.”
The Herald confirmed that Mali was suspended for not carrying out council resolutions and as a result her contract was not renewed.
Ngcelwane was suspended for flouting supply chain management processes and was dismissed.
A source said the remaining candidate, Mdunyelwa, did not have the experience of managing a municipality, especially such a large one as the metro.
"This whole process will have to be restarted because we cannot just interview the one guy.”
Hani, suspended Bay Integrated Development Plan director Sithembele Vatala, and Chabula- Nxiweni also applied for the post.
Vatala was at the centre of controversy during the recruitment process last year. He dragged the municipality to court claiming the process had been flawed.
In May, the process was stalled again by Bay deputy mayor Nancy Sihlwayi, who is the convener of the interview panel, because there were "political matters that needed to be sorted out first”, according to a source.
Since then, the panellists have not met.
On the interview panel are Sihlwayi, Mandela Bay Development Agency chairman Dr Sipho Pityana, and Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chairman Kevin Hustler. Former metro corporate services director Rio Nolutshungu was also a panellist, but he resigned in May.
Meanwhile, the five-year contracts of economic development executive director Zolile Siswana and chief operations officer Israel Tsatsire expire in August and September.
The contracts for acting chief financial officer Selwyn Thys and acting human settlements executive director Kosalin Naicker expired on July 18.
Municipal spokesman Roland Williams said the process for the recruitment and appointment of the municipal manager was being managed by the mayor’s office and was regarded as an internal matter until such time that mayor Zanxolo Wayile tabled a report to council on August 7.