Political interference

In Lindiwe Gail Msengana-Ndlela v Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality (3282/2013) [2015] ZAECPEHC 31, the High Court dealt with an action for damages for breach of a contract of employment.

The Municipality appointed Msengana-Ndlela as Municipal Manager for a period of four years. In her contract of employment, the Municipality expressly warranted that there would be no undue political interference in the execution of her duties.

Msengana-Ndlela testified about the extent to which the Executive Mayor and his deputy had interfered with the performance of her core functions. These included attempts to frustrate her in relation to supply chain management and the recruitment of senior managers, and instructions to carry out administrative acts in the name of majority rule, notwithstanding that they were contrary to government policies and procedures.

In particular, Msengana-Ndlela mentioned instructions that she had received to appoint 16 members of the MKVA as close protection officers for the Municipality, without consideration for HR policies and the availability of funds.

The MEC did not intervene in the matter, despite Msengana-Ndlela’s request. This culminated in her resignation.

The Municipality failed to refute Msengana-Ndlela’s evidence. Consequently, the High Court found in her favour and awarded her contractual damages in the amount of R 3,142,235 for breach of her contract of employment as Municipal Manager.

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