Thabiso Goba
3 minute read
7 Jul 2022

uMkhanyakude District in KZN in a fix

Thabiso Goba

Court battles between the ANC and IFP in the uMkhanyakude District have left residents without service delivery and the municipality non-functional.

The IFP's Tim Moodley

Court battles between the ANC and IFP in the uMkhanyakude District have left residents without service delivery and the municipality non-functional.

It has been more than eight months since the local government elections and uMkhanyakude has not passed its 2022/23 budget or appointed a municipal manager, a chief financial officer and other key positions.

The reason for this is largely due to the battles over which party should control the municipality. On Wednesday, the IFP leadership in the region held a press briefing in Durban to provide the latest update on the matter.

Before the briefing could start, news started filtering through to the IFP councillors present that municipal workers in uMkhanyakude had downed tools and were protesting at their offices.

“The municipality is simply not working,” said the IFP’s Tim Moodley, who was presented as uMkhanyakude’s shadow mayor.

Both the ANC and IFP have different opinions over who should be heading the municipality.

UMkhanyakude is a district municipality and under its umbrella are the Hlabisa Big Five, Jozini, Mtubatuba and uMhlabuyalingana local municipalities.

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According to the election results, the IFP won all four of the local municipalities.

For uMkhanyakude, the allocation of council seats is made up of 60% from the local municipalities and 40% that are elected directly by voters in the local elections.

The issue began during the Mtubatuba inaugural meeting on November 23, 2021, when two IFP councillors were not allowed to vote during the process of choosing district councillors.

According to court papers, one IFP councillor went on a comfort break before the start of the voting process while another had an issue with their identity document.

In the absence of these two IFP councillors, and IFP councillors walking out of the meeting in protest, the ANC “unlawfully” elected more than its allocated number of councillors to the district.

This gave the ANC a majority in uMkhanyakude district council, ensuring that an ANC mayor, deputy mayor and speaker were elected.

The IFP won a court order declaring the November 23, 2021 council meeting invalid and they had another council meeting in May where they passed a motion of no-confidence against the three ANC office bearers.

ALSO READ | IFP accuses ANC of power grab in KZN’s uMkhanyakude

However, the ANC and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) were successfully granted leave to appeal the decision and it was ruled that the ANC office bearers remain in their positions pending the finalisation of the case.

A court decision is expected on August 3. In the meantime, council remains at a deadlock and water services for the community are non-existent, said Moodley, the IFP’s pick for mayor.

“We cannot vote for a budget that we are not in control of,” said Moodley.

“Direction in the municipality is lost, therefore it affects service. I know water is an issue, we are responsible for water, sanitation and electricity as uMkhanyakude,” he said.

Sibusiso Khumalo, the ANC’s Chief Whip in uMkhanyakude, said the party has always conducted itself by the book.

We have to wait for the court decisions but it is the IFP that is holding things up by refusing to come to council and vote on important council matters

During the press briefing, the IFP accused KZN Cogta of siding with the ANC because of political affiliations. Senzelwe Mzila, KZN Cogta spokesperson, said that is untrue, adding that the department has always acted as an impartial player in the matter.

Mzila said it is “concerning” that the municipality has not sorted its problems out after such a long time – since the local government elections.

“The MEC is calling for co-operation from all interested councillors in the province. Cogta will continue to use courts of law as a last resort especially in instances where irregular decisions are taken by councils,” he said.