R2.3-million golden handshake for suspended City official

A SENIOR City of uMhlathuze Manager who resigned last week will receive a contract settlement pay-out of a little more than R2.3-million amid strong objections by opposition parties.
At a special meeting of the Executive Council on Thursday,the agenda of which has been classified as ‘in committee’, the fate of now former Deputy Municipal Manager: Infrastructure and Technical Services head, Tumelo Gopane, was decided.
Gopane was last month suspended pending an investigation initiated by the City.
It remains unclear what the subject of the probe would have entailed, however highly placed sources confirmed to the Zululand Observer that allegations were raised internally and dealt directly with Gopane’s work for the municipality.
Gopane was given the manadatory seven days to respond to the allegations in writing. Two days before the deadline, he submitted his resignation.
Representatives of the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party objected to the amount to be paid, which constituted 18 months’ salary.
The investigation will not continue, sources say, which has instilled serious speculation about the allegations.

Cloak and dagger
Gopane wore a cloak of controversy from the beginning, with opposition parties raising serious doubts regarding his qualifications to hold the position when he was appointed in 2013.
The IFP in uThungulu expressed their concerns on Friday, saying the investigation was necessary.
‘In fact, there was supposed to be an investigation and prior to the commencement of such he decided to resign,’ they said.
‘The investigation would have proven if he was guilty or innocent, and a decision should only then have been taken.’
They also confirmed that they opposed the decision and agreed it seemed to be an escape tactic so that the issues raised with Gopane won’t come under full scrutiny.
DA Councillor Alen Viljoen would not be drawn into details surrounding the meeting or the investigation, maintaining the discussions were confidential.
He did confirm the DA accepted Gopane’s resignation, but objected to the settlement amount.
City spokesperson Mdu Ncalane said in a statement on Friday that Gopane ‘resigned voluntarily with immediate effect and Council approved his resignation’.
‘Reasons for his resignation were not cited in the letter.
‘Council released Mr Gopane and wished him well in his future plans. The remainder of his contract was negotiated with Council and agreements were amicably reached, which remains confidential between the employer and employee.’
‘Council also appreciated Mr Gopane’s contribution towards the City’s service delivery,’ concluded the statement.

Kyle Cowan

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