Durban — The stakes are high in the ANC-led Umzumbe Local Municipality on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal where a faction led by the expelled speaker, Sibonelo Maphumulo, allegedly plotted to oust the ANC mayor Bongani Nyuswa.
The agenda for Friday’s special council meeting that was seen by the Daily News on Thursday, includes a motion of no confidence against the mayor and the Whip of the Council Sibongiseni Cele who is also an ANC member.
Maphumulo who was ward 11 councillor was fired by the ANC last year. His dismissal was announced by the party’s provincial secretary Bheki Mtolo and the party declared a vacancy.
However, the defiant Speaker is still in his position arguing that he had appealed his dismissal, according to the sources in the municipality.
Also on the agenda is a proposal to rescind a council decision to hire an acting manager. According to sources, a manager was hired last week but after refusing to heed alleged unlawful instructions from the Speaker there was now a plot to kick her out.
The paper also saw a series of back and forth emails between the acting manager and the speaker where the latter instructed the manager to pay a legal service manager who had gone AWOL since October last year.
The paper also learned that the legal service manager was taken for a disciplinary hearing in which a panel led by a law firm, found her guilty and recommended dismissal - which was implemented by the acting municipal manager a few days ago.
Sources say a plot to rescind her employment could have emanated from her refusal to pay the legal services manager.
The acting manager who did not want her name to be mentioned in the paper said she was aware of the council meeting scheduled to take place on Friday. However, the agenda including motions that were to be tabled were not discussed. She said she was shocked when she saw the agenda.
She didn’t know the reason for the council to rescind her employment and questioned the legality of the council’s plan to reverse her employment.
Attempts to get both the mayor and whip to comment were unsuccessful.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said the party was aware that a certain individual was plotting against the party in the municipality.
He said the party would act decisively. He said the party was also aware that Maphumulo was still the speaker because he had launched an appeal, but maintained that he was as good as gone as what he was doing would help speed up internal processes. Mndebele warned that whatever the outcome of Friday’s council meeting would not last.
Maphumulo said that he had received two motions which were filed by the opposition last year in November, saying “it was given to me and I had to call a meeting as a Speaker.”
He added that if he did not call a meeting the opposition would have gone taken the municipality to court. He also confirmed that there was a proposal to rescind the municipal manager's employment whom he accused of refusing to take instructions from the council.
“She does not want to take instructions from her employer which is the council and take them from external forces. So, how will the council work with someone who takes instructions from outside people who are causing divisions in the municipality,” said Maphumulo.
He denied that he had plotted the removal of the mayor, refusing to be drawn into ANC politics in the municipality. On his expulsion by the ANC, he said he had appealed it and was awaiting a decision from the party’s national structure.
Maphumulo has been “a thorn in the ANC’s flesh” since his controversial election as Speaker in 2021. The ANC never wanted him in the first place but he got elected through the support of certain ANC councillors and opposition.
He was accused of going against ANC caucus decisions and working with the opposition, until he was eventually charged and found guilty last year. It subsequently fired him as a member of the party.
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