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THE GIDEON MHLONGO CASE IN CLOSING

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Good morning to the readers of this publication in general and this column in particular! As I promised last weekend that today shall be my last article on this ongoing saga between the Mbabane Municipality on the one hand and Gideon Mhlongo and Minister Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza on the other hand; now having interviewed most of the affected people in the matter; I shall now close this matter.


First, my interview with Mhlongo himself, who is in the Centre of this debate, a debate which is very embarrassing to any decent person ,and Mhlongo is a decent  person.
On Friday June 22, last week, I had the privilege of being invited by Mhlongo in order to give his side of the story. When I met him I had to apologize for having written so much about him without having afforded him an opportunity to state his side of the story ; something he accepted and then listened to my questions .

history of troubles


Giving me the history of his troubles at the City Council of Mbabane,  Mhlongo told me that his troubles began when he noted an anomaly in which a particular mayor had his wife working at the city council as an employee and got rid of this Individual who  has never forgiven him, and therefore would dig any perceived dirt and try to use it in influencing those still in council to bet rid off him ( Mhlongo). He said similarly, the other individual who hates him with a passion was once suspended by the council and that he too has never forgiven him, and would try to dig for anything he thought would influence those still sitting in council to find fault against him and dismiss him.


Asked about the case he lost and now the payment he had suddenly received; he said that at the time or parting in 2003; he too had some financial obligations to the council and so did the council. And that when they re-employed him, there was a need to settle those outstanding issues; namely for him to pay for his car and for the council to settle its own financial obligations to him.

report fraudulent claims
When I asked him about an alleged fraudulent act concerning his property, he told me that he had actually asked the person who was making these allegations to report the matter either to the police or to the Anti-Corruption Commission; and that individual has never done that but continues to tarnish his name without seeking the necessary help from these institutions.


And lastly ,when I asked him about the noise which surround his name right now which had forced me to question the role of the minister in trying to frustrate the council from refusing to renew his contract ; he said while he would not comment on the motivation for the minister to do what he was doing ; but the injustices he  himself was objecting to were that this refusal to renew his contract is not based on him having failed to perform according to his specification , but based on the influence of those who have never forgiven him when he caused them to be kicked out of council for obvious conflicts of interests .  


Told me that as an experienced human resources person, I should know and expect that in refusing to renew an employee’s contract of employment, such an employee must have dismally failed in his or her performance appraisal! He said this had not been the case with him but that he was too costly to maintain because of his alleged salary which he did not just give himself but was given by those who employed him. This was Mhlongo’s case which had made me to want to interview both the mayor and the minister. My efforts to get the mayor, notwithstanding my earlier contact with him and sending my questions to the email he had supplied me with, I did not get his answers. But I did get  answers from the minister who chose to call me in order to clarify any further questions I could have wanted answers to had he sent me written answers .



The four questions I sent to the Minister were as follows:-
1. Minister, when you employed Mhlongo, were you aware that he had resigned in 2003; and if yes, why re- employ him?

2. Were you aware that after having resigned, in 2003 he had then taken the council to the Industrial Court, alleging ‘automatically unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal?’ If not, why didn’t you consult his personal file ?

3.  Now that council is refusing to renew his employment contract, why are you frustrating them? What is in it for you in keeping him on against the best interests of the rates payers?

4. Lastly, are local government institutions not autonomous and therefore free to take decisions best for the interests of the rates payers? Why was Leonard Nxumalo rejected in favour of   Mhlongo after having been offered the job?

Mhlongo already
on the job
To the first and second questions, the minister said that he had found Mhlongo already on the job when he joined government as minister of the Crown and, therefore, would not have known about that history. But on question three (3), regarding his resistance against Mhlongo’s removal or refusal to renew his contract; that this was a question of justice! His question was to the council;” give me sound reasons for your refusal to renew his contract of employment against his recent appraisal which placed him higher than the 70 per cent performance excellence!” That instead of the council answering that question, it had claimed that he was financially unaffordable! He said this was not a sound and fair reason, hence he was resisting the unfairness if not injustice.
Regarding the case of Leonard Nxumalo’s rejection, he said he was not fully informed about this case, although he had been told that some how many good people like Nxumalo had been considered for the job by an Interim Board and as to why they were rejected, this he did not know. He then referred me to Senator Walter Bennett for some of the questions he could not answer because he had not joined government at the time.
My interview with Senator Walter Bennett produced the following:-
That any reference to either the ACC or the police is one way of throwing one into the dark forest because both these institutions are controlled by senior Cabinet ministers and are both used to settle political battles , and therefore would never take a case which is bound to expose the dirt of some of their political  bosses! He said the case in point was the drama at the PSPF! He said therefore anyone who blamed him for not using these structures was simply lying, knowing that even if he would have done it, he would have yielded nothing of substance.

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