Rescind Mthembu’s suspension – Reddy

MK Party senior member Visvin Reddy (with a tie) wrote to eThekwini city manager Musa Mbhele and demanded the reinstatement of suspended electricity head Maxwell Mthembu. | JEHRAN NAIDOO

MK Party senior member Visvin Reddy (with a tie) wrote to eThekwini city manager Musa Mbhele and demanded the reinstatement of suspended electricity head Maxwell Mthembu. | JEHRAN NAIDOO

Published Apr 15, 2024


Durban — UMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) senior member and eThekwini Municipality councillor Visvin Reddy has called on City Manager Musa Mbhele to rescind the suspension of the Electricity head, Maxwell Mthembu.

In a letter penned by Reddy to Mbhele on Sunday, the MKP senior member said Mthembu was suspended on the baseless allegation that he was a member of the MK Party.

“Dear Mr Mbhele, I am writing to express my deep disappointment and disgust in the manner in which Mr Maxwell Mthembu, the head of the Electricity Department, was suspended.

“It has come to my attention that the suspension was carried out without due consideration of fair procedures and without proper adherence to the law. From what I have gathered, it is alleged that Mr Mthembu failed to follow instructions to suspend striking workers.

“However, he adamantly claims that these instructions were indeed complied with. Furthermore, the suspension letter was not delivered to Mr Mthembu’s place of work, as required by law. Such a disregard for proper procedure and fairness is highly concerning, especially considering the criticality of the electricity unit for the efficient management of the municipality,” read the letter.

Reddy also said it has been brought to his attention that Mthembu’s suspension may be influenced by baseless allegations of his membership in the uMkhonto weSizwe Party.

Reddy said as a senior member of the party, he was compelled to deny such unfounded claims. If it was true that Mthembu’s suspension was politically motivated, it raised serious questions about the motives behind Mbhele’s actions, he said.

Reddy also reminded Mbhele that everyone knew his appointment as city manager was marred by political interference from various factions within the ANC, saying It would be truly disheartening if senior officials were being suspended based on their perceived affiliations with other political parties.

The letter further read: “As a former member and councillor of the ANC, I believe it is crucial for all officials to be appointed based on merit and qualifications. While it is true that many senior officials actively support the ANC in its election campaigns, we must prioritise service delivery over political agendas. The ANC’s current factional battles and declining popularity should not dictate the actions and decisions of your office.

“Therefore, I strongly urge you to reinstate Mr Mthembu immediately and to ensure that due process is followed if he is to face suspension. It is imperative that fairness prevails and that officials are given a fair opportunity to present their case. I trust that you will consider my concerns seriously and take appropriate action to rectify this situation,” the letter concludes.

Mthembu was suspended last month and was challenging the suspension in the bargaining council. He argued that the suspension was illegal since Mbhele had no authority to suspend but his immediate supervisor, Sibusiso Makhanya, the deputy city manager.

Mthembu argued that he was suspended while on official sick leave. He said it was unlawful as the Labour Act dictates that an employee must be served with a letter of suspension at work.

In the suspension letter, Mthembu is accused of disobeying the lawful instruction of the city manager to summarily dismiss workers who participated in an illegal strike.

On a second count, Mthembu is accused of allegedly giving misleading and contradictory information to one of the councillors that the strike was ongoing, contradicting the City’s media briefing stating that the strike had been called off.

He denied all the charges and said he complied with the instructions to dismiss the workers. He also denied claims that he contradicted the City on the strike and said the South African Municipal Workers Union, with whom the striking workers are affiliated, said the strike was not over.

Mthembu refused to comment on Reddy’s letter.

eThekwini Municipality had not responded to a request for comment by publication time.

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