Thapelo Matlala is back in office following a concerted effort by elements within the Greater Tzaneen Municipality (GTM) to have him removed from the municipal manager’s chair. On Monday morning amid some speculation that he may not return to take up the mantle of accounting officer, Matlala arrived for work. His first order of business was a meeting with the executive management team.
His two week absence was a result of a provisional suspension imposed upon him by the GTM Council after he cancelled a tender project and saved the municipality R38 million. The case found its way into the labour court where Matlala’s legal team opposed the suspension and fought to have him reinstated immediately as the suspension was deemed illegal and unfounded. To this day, there is still no clarity as to what exactly Matlala had done to warrant the suspension, nor has there been any explanation as to what the council was investigating regarding the Codesa and Maluti roads project which has now become known as the Tshiamiso Affair.
Matlala overturned the decision to award a roads tender to Tshiamiso after he discovered that the contractor had misrepresented on its bill of quantities in order to secure the tender. The project was cancelled and Matlala saved the GTM R38 million which Tshiamiso had demanded above the tendered and agreed upon amount. Following this act by the municipal manager, there was a failed assassination attempt on his life, and an almost immediate suspension.
Not moments after he vacated his office, it was boldly announced that the VBS-linked CFO, Palesa Makhubela, would stand in as acting municipal manager. A source close to the municipality alleged that the move was indicative of the council’s intent to pay over the money to the contractor. Matlala won the labour court case and retook the reins before this could happen. The question now is whether the attacks by the unionists and opposing factionists against Matlala will intensify as he continues his crusade to rid the municipality of corruption.
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