After the postponement of Thursday’s sitting, DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango took to social media, venting his frustration at what he described as the “ignorance” and “arrogance” of Gumede.
“Sad reality of our daily issues with Zandile Gumede as the mayor. She cancels meetings as she wants and doesn’t really care about service delivery. What is the mayor doing if her priority is not with the municipality and its people? A fire destroyed 485 shacks and left close to 2000 people homeless but the mayor is not interested in a meeting to discuss possible solutions,” Mncwango wrote.
He said there used to be no less than four meetings a month, but now councillors were lucky to have one meeting a month under Gumede’s tenure.
“(Former mayor) James Nxumalo was not perfect but at least he respected his oath of office and understood the responsibility of being the mayor of a big metro like eThekwini,” he said.
There have been cancellations and postponements of executive committee meetings almost every month since Gumede took over as mayor in August 2016.
On Monday, Mncwago sent a scathing e-mail about Gumede to the Daily News.
“The executive committee has a responsibility to run the municipal affairs on a day-to-day basis; hence the weekly meetings are important. We exco members get paid high salaries and (are) classified as full-time councillors in order to ensure there is proper daily management of the municipality. According to the Municipal Structures Act, exco must identify the needs of the municipality, review and evaluate those needs. Exco further needs to oversee the provision of services to communities.
“Under Zandile Gumede we now mostly meet once a month before a full council meeting, or twice a month whenever she feels good, “ Mncwango said.
He said Gumede should be taken through an induction process to assist her with proper understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the executive committee, including the duties of the mayor.
“It is clear that the mayor is clueless and maybe Salga (the SA Local Government Association) needs to take her for some training.” Mncwango offered Gumede a week’s training in his office.
“Some of us serving second terms on the executive committee can easily compare the leadership of former mayor James Nxumalo and Zandile Gumede. Nxumalo was not perfect, but one can recall that he was responsible and respectful, and he tried by all means to convene meetings every week. Where it was impossible to hold scheduled exco meetings, James would ensure that proper notice went to exco members with reasons provided (for the cancellation) at the next meeting.
“The current mayor has no respect for the position she holds, no respect for exco members, no respect for officials, no respect for the community and no respect for everyone,” Mncwango said.
IFP council member Mdu Nkosi blamed the “incompetence” on political instability in the ruling ANC. “The political instability in the ruling party is costing exco members and the citizens because decisions are delayed.The work is piling up and no one seems to care,” Nkosi said.
Gumede’s spokesperson Mthunzi Gumede said council meetings were held according to the provisions of the relevant laws.
He said the mayor had not deviated from those laws.
Former city manager Sbu Sithole, who was unceremoniously kicked out by Gumede before the end of his tenure, said he did not want to comment on city issues as he did not want to be seen as “ruling from the grave”.
Advocate Paul Hoffman, director of Accountability Now, said the constitution of the Republic provided that a high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained by public office bearers.
He said section 195 (1) of the constitution provided for accountable public administration: “Public administration must be broadly representative of the South African people, with employment and personnel management practices based on ability, objectivity, fairness, and the need to redress the imbalances of the past to achieve broad representation. With that said, unnecessary cancellation or postponement of council meetings is not right.”