IFP and ANC marriage likely illegal, analyst says

Seated is new Umvoti Municipality speaker Ntombi Ngubane of the ANC and new mayor Zamani Malembe of the IFP. Photo: Willem Phungula

Seated is new Umvoti Municipality speaker Ntombi Ngubane of the ANC and new mayor Zamani Malembe of the IFP. Photo: Willem Phungula

Published May 22, 2024


Durban — The election of an IFP mayor and an ANC speaker in the Umvoti Local Municipality could be illegal.

This was the view of advocate Mpumelelo Zikalala, who weighed in on the dramatic election of the IFP’s Zamani Malembe as the new mayor and the ANC’s Ntombi Ngubane as the new speaker on Tuesday.

Zikalala said if the respondents continued with the proceedings knowing that there was a court order, it would mean that they were in contempt of court. He said there was no way the court would have proceeded with the matter without having satisfied itself that all parties were properly informed about the application.

However, Zikalala said the removed leaders must go to court to report the contempt of court and ask the court to set aside their election.

“The whole exercise could be rendered illegal by the court and declared as contempt of court if the aggrieved party (Abantu Batho Congress – ABC) proves that the respondents were properly notified about the application.”

However, Zikalala said to get back to the office the aggrieved party must ask the court to set the respondents’ election aside.

Reacting to his removal, speaker Mfundo Masondo laughed off the election, saying it was a circus, and urged the people of Umvoti to reject it as he was still the municipality mayor.

Speaking to the media after the proceedings, Masondo, who is also the ABC national chairperson, said the IFP and the ANC just wanted to make a political statement by electing themselves despite the order.

He said the party had anticipated that the sheriff would delay and the party went to serve the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) legal team with the order, which it acknowledged receiving and stamped before the council meeting could start, adding that even the sheriff of the court came and served Cogta’s deputy director-general Madoda Khathide before the magistrate swore in the new leadership.

“The meeting was clearly illegal. As I speak to you I am the speaker and Philani Mavundla is the mayor. What happened here was just a circus. In fact, they are in contempt of court and must be arrested and sent to jail for disobeying the order of the court,” said Masondo.

In a historic political development a few days ahead of the general elections, the IFP and the ANC will for the first time co-govern a municipality in KwaZulu-Natal. On Tuesday morning, the two bitter political rivals teamed up in Umvoti Local Municipality in Greytown and removed both Mavundla and Masondo by a vote of no confidence in a special council meeting.

The meeting was called by Cogta MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi and was chaired by the department’s Khathide.

Their election was preceded by drama after the ABC produced a court order interdicting the meeting. The chairperson adjourned the meeting for 10 minutes to consult his legal desk back in Pietermaritzburg.

After the adjournment, Khathide announced that the legal desk confirmed the receipt of the order but said that the meeting must continue since the sheriff was supposed to come and serve the council. This prompted a walkout by the six ABC councillors, who said they could not violate the court order, leaving the nine ANC and 10 IFP councillors.

Khathide proceeded with the meeting despite an interdict and called for nominations from the floor. Ngubane and Malembe were then elected.

The development was historic since the two parties had never co-governed a municipality in the province before except from 1994 to 2004, when they shared power in the provincial legislature and national. On legal matters, the two parties said they were leaving it to Cogta to deal with it as it was the department’s meeting.

Both the IFP and the ANC avoided commenting on the legality of the meeting except to congratulate the new leadership.

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