Ethekwini council meeting stymied by Covid-19 outbreak
Durban - THE Covid-19 pandemic has brought eThekwini council to a halt as meetings have been cancelled because of a number of infections in the secretariat.
The city first cancelled its executive committee meeting which was scheduled for Tuesday, and on Thursday the Daily News was told that the full council meeting - where service delivery-related decisions are approved - was also cancelled.
A city hall employee said “most” of the secretariat’s senior staff were either in self-isolation or under quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19.
“Many of the seniors have tested positive and their section is quiet. This is a very bad patch in our working lives because this virus is for real and it doesn’t discriminate.
“You go home healthy after work and the next thing you have symptoms, you get tested and the results come back positive. This is scary and, unfortunately, it has become a new normal both in public and private sectors,” said the employee on condition of anonymity.
Councillors from various political parties confirmed that the council meeting was cancelled after secretariat staff tested positive with Covid-19.
It is not clear how many officials tested positive.
The EFF’s proportional representation councillor, Bawinile Msomi, said that for about two weeks certain areas in City Hall were closed for sanitisation and fumigation.
“We were made aware that there were Covid cases and this will definitely affect the running of the council. The secretariat plays a vital role in the co-ordination of meetings and if they are not there then meetings can’t sit,” Msomi said.
Independent candidate Njabulo Maphanga said: “We discussed this three weeks ago when party whips were engaged on the increasing cases of Covid-19 at the municipality, especially in the secretariat unit. In that consultative process, it was agreed that the council would have to be cancelled because of the nature of this virus.”
The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi said the situation was unavoidable.
“This is unfortunate because the secretariat plays a vital role in having successful council meetings. We have been told that many of them were positive with the virus. We wish all of them a speedy recovery because of the value they have in running the council,” Nkosi said.
The municipality did not confirm or deny that the meeting was cancelled because of the number of secretariat officers who tested positive.
Spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said: “Please note the city does not comment on Covid cases as we are led by the health Department in this regard. Please note that it’s not the first time that a council or exco meeting is cancelled. Cancellation could be as a consequence of numerous reasons other than Covid-19.
“Our city refuses to have the coronavirus dictating its agenda. Without disregarding regulations of lockdown, we continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities against all odds to the benefit of all our stakeholders.”