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R5 million golden handshake for former CFO Trevor Harper a fabrication: City Manager

Feb 12, 2018
R5 million golden handshake for former CFO Trevor Harper a fabrication: City Manager

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality City Manager, Johann Mettler, on Monday dismissed a statement by former Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Deputy Executive Mayor and Regional Chairperson of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Mongameli Bobani, alleging that Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, illegally authorised a R5 million golden handshake for then suspended Chief Financial Officer, Trevor Harper, as fabrication.

In his statement, Bobani claimed that Trollip had authorised a R5 million golden handshake, without the power to do so - as, according to him, "senior managers, such as the CFO, are appointed by Council and all powers to manage their contracts and terms vest in Council alone".

However, Mettler explained; "As Accounting Officer, I have the delegated authority to settle disputes."

He added that actually it was Harper, who had approached the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality with an offer to resign.

On precautionary suspension since November 2016, Harper was officially suspended during a confidential Council session on February 23, 2017, pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.

"A confidential agreement was entered into with Mr Harper," Mettler told RNEWS, adding; "It is a complete fabrication that the settlement amounted to R5 million or even anything remotely close thereto."

Still, Bobani claimed that "this questionable arrangement is made more suspect by its makeup: remuneration for eight months, being the remainder of Harper’s current term; interest; and legal fees – costing taxpayers some R5 million".

"The payment of interest or legal fees is a complete fabrication," Mettler responded.

"It deserves to be noted that none of the civil or criminal claims have been withdrawn."

He further said that "the matter will be formally reported to Council as a matter of process".

Meanwhile, the Metro announced that it was now looking for a new CFO.