The first vacancy addressed at the Special Council Meeting on August 25 was the position of Acting Director Planning & Development. Mike Maughan-Brown had quit in May.
To great approval from the public, Marlene Boyce was temporarily appointed to the post. Temporary appointments are only allowed for 3 months. Thus, the position was vacant again.
Deputy Mayor Peter Myers (DA) said that “it’s unacceptable” that the Administration had failed to make progress in fulling the the position permanently and asked that “Municipal Manager [Grant Easton] be called to account.”
ANC Chief Whip Victor Malosi called it “a blame game” and said that the responsibility fell to the Council to appoint a director.
Legal Adviser Melony Paulsen read the relevant legislation, proving that it was indeed the responsibility of the Municipal Manager and not the Council.
Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies rightfully said the “the matter must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.”
The DA’s move was to reappoint Boyce.
Councillor Mncedisi Skosana (ANC) then spoke in Xhosa, causing an interruption whilst an interpreter was sought. It’s every councillors right to speak their language but considering that Skosana speaks good English, it was interpreted by some to be a means of slowing the decision-making process.
The interpreter passed on his words: “Is she the only one in her department who knows the job? What does she have that made you choose her?”
Myers responded that, “She is exceptionally well qualified. She has a legal degree and was previously a prosecutor. She has a Masters degree in Development studies and years of experience working in that planning department. In terms of equity, she is a female and is previously from a disadvantaged background.”
Skosana objected, saying that he doesn’t want to know her qualifications. He wanted to know the qualifications of other people.
Bouw-Spies said that, “There are procedures that have to be followed. There was a vacancy. We are allowed to appoint an Acting Director for 3 months. That expires tomorrow. We have someone who has learnt the job. For the purposes of continuity, why would we want to change something that works? Let her act for the next 3 months and then see what happens once the post is advertised.”
Malosi then turned the ANC’s position completely around, saying that he appreciated Myer’s explanation and the DA’s supporting of an employment equity position.
That was an important moment. It had been previously strange how the ANC were aiming for a white male for the position. Even at this Council Meeting, it was if Malosi had been instructed from outside Council to take an objective position, maintaining their support for a controversial administration under fire.
Boyce is back in for another 3 months. Many will be hoping that becomes the permanent Director Planning & Development…