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NMB Municipal Manager Johann Mettler suspended, Metro will shed more light

By Afikile Lugunya - Sep 28, 2018
NMB Municipal Manager Johann Mettler suspended, Metro will shed more light

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is on Friday expected to shed more light about the suspension of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Municipal Manager, Johann Mettler, pending an investigation over allegations of gross misconduct following a day-long closed door Council Meeting on Thursday.

It is understood the suspended Mettler has been replaced by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Director for Human Settlements and Spatial Planning, Nolwandle Gqiba.

Among her previous roles, Gqiba once served as the Municipal Manager at Enoch Mgijima Municipality, which she left to join the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

Still, the information is yet to be formally communicated by Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Mongameli Bobani, and a press briefing has been scheduled for Friday morning.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson, Mthubanzi Mniki, on Thursday told journalists that it would be unlawful if Bobani were to rush and announce Mettler’s suspension without following protocols – which was a disappointment for journalists, who had waited for the news for over five hours.

Thursday’s Council meeting

Besides a brief exchange on Thursday morning between Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape leader, Nqaba Bhanga, and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Zilindile Vena, the Council Meeting continued from where it left off on Tuesday.

The meeting had been adjourned on Tuesday following chaos that broke out after the DA brought in Lutho Sokudela, whom the DA sworn in at the beginning of September as a replacement for its rogue Councillor, Victor Mbulelo Manyathi.

That was despite a Port Elizabeth High Court ruling that Manyathi is a DA Councillor until such a time that he decides to resign or when the party has concluded internal disciplinary processes against him.

To further embarrassment for the DA, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Wednesday also announced in a letter that it recognises Manyathi as the lawful DA Councillor and not Lutho Sokudela.

The IEC had early on declared Manyathi’s seat vacant after the DA had summarily terminated his membership after the events of 27 August, in which he aided in the removal of then Speaker, Jonathan Lawack, which paved the way for the removal of Athol Trollip as Mayor and the entire DA-led coalition government.

Johann Mettler’s future debated and he is suspended

On Thursday morning, the DA’s Goergen Gustav Miggels was also at one point eject from the Council Chambers by the Speaker, Buyelwa Mafaya, for apparently talking to the Speaker without being addressed.

Councillors briefly debated the appointment of a new Chairperson for the Rules & Ethics Committee.

The African National Congress’ (ANC) Andile Lungisa nominated EFF councillor Lukhanyo Mrara to take up this position.

However, Vena asked that the item be withdrawn from the agenda so that it can be debated in the next council meeting, which was supported by other councillors. The item was withdrawn.

The public gallery was then asked to leave the Council Chamber to afford Councillors the opportunity to deal with the matter concerning the future of City Manager, Johann Mettler.

This follows allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Mettler.

Councillors were expected to take around an hour to hear Mettler’s response as to why he should not be suspended.

For over five hours, there was no word about what was happening in the Council Chambers.

During a tea break, Bhanga only hinted that they were showing the Mongameli Bobani led administration "what it really means to be an opposition party”.

It is understood the ousted DA-led coalition that includes the Congress of the People (COPE) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), did not support Mettler’s suspension while the ANC, United Democratic Movement and other parties that make up the government coalition wanted him suspended.

All eyes will be on Friday’s press briefing.

Image: Nolwandle Gqiba, apparently appointed Acting Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Municipal Manager

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