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eThekwini Electricity Head Faces Suspension Amidst Sabotage Allegations

Published March 19, 2024
2 months ago


The eThekwini Municipality is once again in the limelight as its head of the electricity department, Maxwell Mthembu, has been presented with a notice of intent to suspend due to allegations of sabotage and giving contradictory information regarding the recent strike action by municipal workers. Amidst ongoing investigations, he has been instructed to vacate his office immediately.


Mthembu is entangled in charges of noncompliance after allegedly neglecting an order to distribute dismissal notices to employees who partook in a prolonged strike associated with the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu). Some of these workers were from his own unit. The imbroglio intensified when Mthembu reportedly provided contradictory accounts about the strike's status, both to city officials and during media engagements, which clashed with the City Manager’s assurance that the labor dispute had concluded.


The urgency contemplated in his removal from office reflects a significant concern within the city management that his continued presence could be potentially adverse to the stability and operational effectiveness of the municipality. According to the contents of the notice, actions attributed to Mthembu equate to sabotage, a severe accusation that preliminarily justifies his suspension on full pay pending the outcome of a thorough probe and any subsequent disciplinary processes.


The DA councillor, Sakhile Mngadi, weighing in on the situation, has argued for stringent measures against any individual substantiated to be implicated in the alleged sabotage. There is a clear emphasis on accountability from the DA's perspective, with Mngadi mentioning the significant repercussions such chaos could bear on the city’s residents in terms of financial loss, unemployment, and food insecurity.


Gugu Sisilana, the spokesperson for the eThekwini Municipality, when approached for commentary, maintained a reserved stance, stating that employer-employee matters are considered internal and confidential. Mthembu, invited to respond, stated that he was preoccupied with a meeting and thus was unable to comment at that time.


Last year’s reports hinted at political maneuvering within the municipality, with a WhatsApp group purportedly revealing a concerted effort by some individuals, including notable figures like DA’s Thabani Mthethwa and ActionSA’s Zwakele Mncwango, to discuss and possibly strategize over Mthembu’s operational management of the electricity department.


The outcome of the ongoing inquiry will be pivotal in identifying the extent of Mthembu’s purported misconduct and, subsequently, his future within the municipality. As the city grapples with the fallout from the strike and allegations of sabotage, the unfolding events point towards a crucial period of scrutiny, adjustment, and a moved urge for integrity within eThekwini Municipality.



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