MBOMBELA – Two years after his arrival at the City of Mbombela Local Municipality, municipal manager (MM) Neil Diamond is on his way out again.
Diamond tendered his resignation on June 30 with a 30-day notice period.
The matter was discussed during the council meeting earlier on Friday and Diamond also confirmed his resignation at the Church Unlimited Business Breakfast this morning.
“Some of you might have seen the front page of Lowvelder. Yes it is true that I have resigned due to personal reasons. It has been difficult for me to be alone. My family made a decision to relocate to the US and I have been alone. It is not that I’m leaving the council because there is something wrong. No, I’m going to join my family in the US. I’m happy that the executive mayor (Councillor Sibusiso Mathonsi) understood my situation and accepted my resignation,” said Diamond this morning.
He reached an agreement with Mathonsi, that his notice period will be served from August 1 to 30.
Diamond was appointed as acting MM in July 2017. His position was made permanent last November. He was appointed for a three-year period.
READ MORE: Neil Diamond appointed as new MM for next three years
Reactions from the business sector
The news has come as a blow to residents, especially the business community. In Diamond they had, for the first time in a long time, an approachable, communicative man at the helm and one who was not shy to communicate with his citizens, often directly on Facebook.
Oupa Pilane, president of Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism:
“It came as a shock. We are quite disturbed, we are hoping that it is not true.
“We were just getting the municipality stabilised and hoping that things were going to get better from where we were.
“Business and tourism is really worried. He had a good impact. He built confidence among communities around Mbombela and gave them hope that there are still good men and women working for them.”
“For us it really gave confidence in state institutions for the first time in a long time.
“Slowly, in a short period, he built an open relationship with business and has an openness to community issues.”Diamond inherited a financial mess and has widely admitted that the City had a long way to go to fix its finances.”
ALSO READ: Neil Diamond gives a glimpse of Mbombela’s future
People with knowledge of council matters widely agreed that he was making deep inroads into getting the municipality back on track.
Linda Grimbeek, chief operating officer at the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism:
“KLCBT and of course myself personally will miss the energy, courage and especially the competence of this man, and we had no trouble remembering his name!
That caused a stir when we first announced we are hosting a breakfast with Neil Diamond… I can only wish that the great turnaround strategy he started to implement, will not lose momentum.
During the past few months we have seen tangible results of his work. A positive financial and management turnaround at the City of Mbombela, great interaction with the business community (without telling us fairy tales), and an open door for the chamber to deal with issues.
I am truly sad and disappointed that we could not provide enough reason for him to stay. Of course we wish him all the best and we grant him all the happiness and success he deserves, and he will always be a friend and welcome in our community any time.
“I believe we will have a great ambassador for the Lowveld wherever his path will take him.”
Council approved the advertising of the vacancy during the council meeting today.
The post is to be advertised nationally. The shortlisting and interviewing panel is to include Ehlanzeni District Municipality and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.