South Africa’s Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen has lashed out on political principals accusing them of misusing public funds through unnecessary distribution of funds in what is called a “golden handshake”
The minister who yesterday, had a little chat with over 200 native authority officers in Centurion, close to Pretoria, ordered the municipalities under his watch to desist from making settlement agreements – better known as “golden handshakes” – because they drain millions away from service delivery and compromise municipal budgets.
Des van Rooyen revealed that tens of millions, have been awarded to municipal managers and senior officers to induce them to go away from their positions once they are not needed by their political principals or councils.
“Experience has shown that during this transitional period many municipalities enter into settlement agreements with senior managers for reasons other than misconduct [or] their performance.
“This usually culminates in huge sums of public funds, committed to enhancing service delivery, being spent on defending arbitration cases with huge and unjustified pay-outs to these managers,” he said.
Van Rooyen also warned that extra arbitrary dismissals of municipal managers have been probably within the run-as much as the August 3 native authorities elections. Such “irregular actions” had been widespread beforehand as elections approached.
“Municipalities are urged to ensure that any termination of a contract of a senior manager is based on legal grounds,” said Van Rooyen.
“We are monitoring the appointment and suspension of senior municipal officials in the run-up to the elections and in the post-election period.
“I want to assure all municipal managers that we have your back,”Des van Rooyen assured them.
The government has in the recent past, paid millions to senior officials as part of settlements that terminate their jobs
Former Hawks head Anwa Dramat for instance, received R3-million payout and R60000 a month till he reaches 60, for a complete of R13-million, in return for his resignation while former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona’s settlement quantity was not disclosed and SA Airways former CEO Monwabisi Kalawe settled for R2.7-million.
Speaking on this, the acting director-general of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Muthotho Sigidi,said the department had amended the Municipal Systems Act to include a provision that bans municipal officials found guilty of corruption from being hired again by a local government for 10 years
Sigidi said the department was keeping a list of fired officials explaining further that suspension of municipal officialsought to last no more than three months, after which their disciplinary hearings should be concluded.
He however insisted that municipalities must allow disciplinary proceedings to conclude before awarding a golden handshake. He said the department favoured settlement agreements reached on the basis of recommendations made at the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing.
“The division needs a state of affairs by which, when a municipality enters right into a disciplinary listening to, it should cope with it till the top and let the golden handshake be an end result or suggestion of that disciplinary listening to,” stated Sigidi.
He said when a council takes a choice to award a golden handshake, we aren’t capable of decide whether or not the official charged was harmless or responsible of wrongdoing and, within the case of the latter, we’re unable to stop their re-entry [into local government].
Stated Sigidi therefore called on municipalities to report to the department with the list of people it had fired.