BCM in labour fight over festival costs

Buffalo City Metro is embroiled in a controversial new arbitration case after firing a senior manager last month for an R847952 payment made in 2014 to host the Buyel’Ekhaya Music Festival at the Buffalo Park Cricket Stadium.

The Buyel’Ekhaya Music Festival at the Buffalo Park Cricket Stadium in 2014 Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA

Although the payment was made through a deviation from normal supply chain processes in 2014, a report was only brought before the council in June, sparking new controversy as to why the report was never brought before council before as required by law.

City manager Andile Sihlahla recently asked the council to note that a disciplinary process had been finalised in connection with procurement of the venue, with the outcome being the dismissal of Vuyani Mbata, a general manager from the metro’s economic development department.

Mbata’s dismissal was noted with the deviation report in council last month. However, the Daily Dispatch has learnt that Mbata had appealed the verdict of the disciplinary process.

Sihlahla said in a letter sent to Mbata last month “the chairperson [of the disciplinary process] has found you guilty of serious misconduct and has imposed a sanction of dismissal.”

Mbata was initially suspended from work in May last year with full pay in connection with the payment and other charges.

But South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) panelist Ncumisa Bantwini ruled in March that Mbata’s suspension was “unfair and is declared null and void”.

Bantwini ruled that Mbata should report for duty on March 15, but the metro stopped him and said it had appealed the ruling. New charges were brought against Mbata and he was told the new notice would replace the previous disciplinary inquiry notice issued to him.

Some of the additional charges were:

lThat he was guilty of gross dishonesty, alternatively, he had misrepresented to the municipality that the total due to Border Cricket for stadium hire for the December 2014 Buyel’Ekhaya Music Festival was R404000, or had conspired to make such misrepresentation or colluded in making such misrepresentation, when he had known that Border Cricket’s charge was in fact R202000;

lThat he was guilty of gross dishonesty, alternatively fraud, in that he misrepresented to the municipality that the total due to Border Cricket for the festival was R847852 or R847952, or conspired to make such misrepresentation or colluded in such misrepresentation when he had known that Border Cricket’s R202000 charges included provision for the costs of the Countdown 2014 event;

lThat he was guilty of gross dishonesty in that he deceitfully failed to disclose to the municipality that costs in respect of the Countdown 2014 event were included in Border Cricket’s invoice for the Buyel’Ekhaya event; and

lThat he was guilty of gross dishonesty in falsely certifying that services for R847852 or R847952 had been received in respect of the December 2014 Buyel’Ekhaya Music Festival.

BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said: “We can confirm, though, that he is no longer in the employ pending an appeal”.

Mbata also confirmed the dismissal and said he was appealing the verdict with his lawyers. — mamelag@dispatch.co.za

 

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