Durban — While the IFP congratulated its newly elected mayor, Mlungisi Ndlovu, who wrested control of the Umzumbe Local Municipality on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, the ANC suspended seven of its councillors who the party believes assisted the IFP.
The ANC’s internal divisions in Umzumbe were laid bare when ANC councillors voted with the opposition in favour of the IFP, who filed a motion of no confidence against mayor Bongani Nyuswa and council whip Sibongiseni Cele on Friday.
Following the 2021 local government elections, the ANC had 21 seats, the IFP 14, and the EFF two.
The African People’s Movement (Apemo) and the African Transformation Movement (ATM) received one seat each.
The ANC in the municipality claimed that the motion was engineered by speaker and ward 11 councillor, Sbonelo Maphumulo.
In December, the ANC announced the expulsion of Maphumulo after a disciplinary process following a litany of charges of misconduct against him.
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”.
Maphumulo appealed against his dismissal. He denied that he was behind the plot to dislodge the ANC.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele confirmed that Maphumulo was still the speaker because he had lodged an appeal.
ANC KZN secretary Bheki Mtolo said that ANC structures had previously marched to the provincial office in protest against Maphu mulo’s conduct.
After Maphumulo’s expulsion, the ANC informed the Electoral Commission of South Africa that having ceased to be a member of the ANC, Maphumulo could no longer occupy the seat of the ANC in the Umzumbe Local Municipality, and therefore a vacancy was declared.
Mtolo said the suspended councillors allegedly participated in a “circus” purporting to be a special council meeting and “elected a fake mayor”.
The ANC said that Thulo Mkhugo of ward 1; Sibonakaliso Radebe of ward 2; Bheki Ngema of ward 3; Mduduzi Msomi of ward 4; Mhlengi Luthuli of ward 16; Thuthukani Jeza of ward 19 and Smangele Dlamini of ward 20 were suspended.
Mtolo said the suspension meant that the councillors were not allowed to call any community meeting as ANC public representatives.
He said that failure to adhere to the conditions of their suspension would lead to their immediate expulsion from the ANC.
Suspended councillors were expected to adhere to the conditions outlined below:
- They are not allowed to convene or attend any meetings of the ANC.
- They are prohibited from attending Umzumbe council meetings as ANC public representatives.
- They served in the council under the banner of the ANC, therefore, following their suspension, they cannot participate in the council meetings as ANC representatives.
Supporting another political organisation or party, other than an organisation in alliance with the ANC, was a clear violation of the ANC constitution, Mtolo said.
The ANC was renewing itself and determined to act firmly against any violation of the party’s constitution, Mtolo added.
“The seven councillors behaved in a manner which weakened the ANC and compromised the unity within its ranks.”
Mtolo added that the ANC remained committed to ensuring that service delivery was not affected in the Umzumbe Local Municipality.
IFP KZN chairperson councillor Thami Ntuli said Ndlovu’s election marks a significant turning point for that municipality, ushering in a new era of effective governance and service delivery.
“Despite not holding the majority in Umzumbe, Ndlovu’s election underscores the trust and confidence that both IFP and non-IFP councillors have placed in the party’s leadership and track record,” Ntuli said.
Ntuli said that the IFP commended Maphumulo for his courage in standing against corruption and for the rights and interests of the people of Umzumbe, even while facing a backlash from his own party.
The IFP called on the ANC to address the concerns raised by Maphumulo regarding corruption and mismanagement in Umzumbe.
Professor Siphamandla Zondi, the director of the Institute for Pan African Thought and Conversation (IPATC), said the suspensions will have a lot of ramifications in the political sphere and create more problems internally for the ANC.
Zondi said this has now opened the doors for the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party to take the suspended councillors into its fold.
“They have created more problems than they can fix,” he said. Francois Rodgers, DA KZN provincial leader, described it as a brave move by the ANC in light of the political landscape in the province.
“Suspending them and removing them are different scenarios. You cannot remove them off the list and you can suspend someone indefinitely.
“These councillors won’t play any political role in the municipality for the ANC. It also shows the crisis the ANC is in with the birth of the MK Party,” Rodgers said.
Independent political analyst Thobani Zikalala said this was an interesting turn of events and a revolt from within the ANC.
Zikalala said the ANC had to rein in its deployees to show they have some sort of grip.
“They might call for a re-vote. This brings instability to the party and municipality. The ANC must get its house in order,” he said.
Dr Noluthando Phungula of IPATC said the issue remains whether Maphumulo is the rightful speaker.
“The issue is around the governance failures of the ANC in the province. The factional divisions in the party have led to this situation. They are the epicentre of the political mess in local government. But technically it appears the ANC might have a case,” Phungula said.
Some of the councillors could not be reached for comment.
However, councillor Dlamini said she was shocked by the decision, as she did not attend the meeting and the register can prove this.
“These are serious allegations. I am concerned about my safety after my name was mentioned in media statements. How will the community react to this? I received a letter notifying me about the suspension. This is a surprise to me,” Dlamini said.
Councillor Radebe said he was also taken by surprise and from what he gathered the people in his ward did not know where the allegations emanated from.
“The people are confused; nobody knows what is going on,” Radebe said.
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