Durban – City manager Sipho Nzuza has threatened to haul the municipality to court after attempts were made this week to block his return to work on Monday.
He claimed that eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda had tried to prevent him from returning to his influential position by asking him to take a further three months of special leave.
Nzuza, who is a co-accused in the R430million fraud and corruption trial involving former mayor Zandile Gumede, returned to work on Monday after being on six months of special leave. The matter returns to the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on December 10.
In a letter to Kaunda and eThekwini Municipality, Speaker Weziwe Thusi, Nzuza alleged Kaunda had told him that some people in political circles were not happy he was returning to work.
He said he was forced to write the letter after alleged attempts to lock him out of his office. He said that if the city continued with efforts to prevent him returning to work, he would seek relief in court.
Nzuza’s office was eventually opened yesterday morning and his biometric access to the building was reactivated.
In the letter, Nzuza wrote: “Around lunch time yesterday (Sunday) I received a call from His Worship, Mayor Kaunda. In a nutshell, His Worship indicated that he required me to submit a letter requesting the extension of my special leave by a further period of 3 months.
“During this conversation I made it clear that I do not require special leave and was fully determined to resume my duties today (Monday).
“I further expressed disappointment that I was not being taken into confidence as to the reasons for the request, particularly as it had implications for the employment relationship. His Worship informed me that the request arose from a decision of political leadership that I should not return to work.”
He said that he told Kaunda that their discussion was too informal, and as such, not legally binding, and asked the mayor to formalise it.
Nzuza’s request for a formal letter was not granted.
“At this point, His Worship (Kaunda) solicited me to at least apply for special leave for two weeks, and I explained to him that I do not require special leave.
“I expressed my intention to report for duty on Monday. I then indicated that I would need to take legal advice.”
When Nzuza returned to work, Kaunda allegedly called him again, asking whether he had considered the request to stay at home.
When the mayor realised that Nzuza was not backing down, he allegedly asked him not to go to the office, but instead to use the mayoral boardroom while the acting city manager was to be informed to vacate the office.
“On several occasions during the telephonic discussion, His Worship repeated his earlier request that I should apply for special leave and comply with the political instruction.
“I gave the same explanations I had given to him previously. The discussion ended. I got the distinct impression that I was being pressured to take special leave under the pain of toeing (unknown and unexplained) political line,” said Nzuza in the letter.
Kaunda’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mtungwa, said he was “not aware of the letter”, but Nzuza’s future with the municipality would be on the agenda today. The city would respond after the meeting.