Tshwane CFO contests dismissal

City of Tshwane CFO Umar Banda’s urgent application asking the Pretoria High Court to set aside his dismissal and reinstate him will be heard on Thursday.

At the center of the dispute is the outcome of the city’s audit, which is usually only made public in January. According to one expert, it seems pretty certain he’ll qualify, but it’s still unclear to what extent.

Banda has been accused of failing to ensure that financial statements submitted to the auditor general complied with the law and misleading city management into thinking they were.

The city has suffered a severe liquidity crunch over the past year and has been unable to pay Eskom on time each month for its bulk electricity purchases, despite a strict collection drive that saw government departments and companies went offline for not paying their electricity bills.

Mayoral committee member Peter Sutton has said it could take three years to turn around the city’s finances.

Extension, suspension, dismissal

This drama saw the Tshwane council on November 24 approve a third extension of Banda’s employment contract until March 31, 2023, but instead of presenting an amendment to give effect to the resolution, the administrator municipal Johann Mettler sent him a suspension notice on December 1. . .

This was withdrawn the next day and replaced by a notice of dismissal with immediate effect. The City Council, however, offered to pay him the rest of the month.

Banda has been in charge of the city portfolio since 2017 and his five-year contract ended on June 30.

The council extended his contract for three months, twice. Each time he was provided with an addendum to his contract to make the extension effective.

These extensions end on December 31. The council recently announced the vacancy, and Banda says he plans to run. Meanwhile, the council approved a new extension until March 31.

About seven days later, Mettler notified him of the suspension, claiming he brought the city into disrepute by its willful or negligent failure to file compliant financial statements. In this way, the letter asserts, he has committed financial misconduct.

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Banda says in his court filings the board did not follow any disciplinary process and did not give him an opportunity to make representations before he was suspended. He was banned from any council estate and had to hand over his laptop and access card. The next day, when the suspension was lifted and he was summarily dismissed, no further reasons were given.

He argues that the dismissal is illegal because there is no legitimate reason, no proper procedure was followed, and the council is unaware of it and has in fact extended his contract until March 31.

He says in his court papers that being fired for financial misconduct will have a devastating effect on his career. Municipal staff who are fired for financial misconduct are blacklisted and cannot work in any municipality in South Africa for 10 years.

Ronald Oppelt, head of the City of Tshwane’s labor relations management division, admits in an answering affidavit on behalf of the city that the dismissal was illegal, but says it doesn’t make much difference.

The City Council was going to pay him until December 31, when the contract ends.

According to Oppelt, the new extension by the council was just an authorization, and once Mettler became aware of the breach in the financial statements, the city decided not to implement the authorization.

He argues that Banda has no oral or written employment agreement beyond December 31 and that any extension would have been illegal anyway. The council is willing to pay him until that date, but does not require Banda to come to the office.

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Audit result

Leon Claassen, an analyst at Ratings Afrika, says the non-compliant financial statements point to a qualified audit result.

The rating level is still unclear. It can be an outright disqualification, or an adverse opinion, which is worse.

If the statements are so incomplete that Auditor General Tsakani Maluleke cannot form an opinion, she may even issue a disclaimer.

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission. Read the original article here.

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