Durban - The power tussle in the Umkhanyakude District Municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal where the ANC and the IFP are at each other’s throats, claiming to be in power, has spilled over to the administration of the entity.
On Wednesday there were near-physical confrontations in the Umkhanyakude District Municipality’s offices in Mkuze when former municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi showed up and started working in the office allocated to Dr Siyabonga Ntuli.
According to municipal staff, Nkosi came to the office after he was brought back by the IFP political leadership to act in the position for three months.
Minutes later, Ntuli showed up with heavily armed bodyguards and kicked Nkosi out of the office.
It is alleged that Ntuli had tried to authorise payments to contractors and others only to find that municipal bank accounts had been frozen.
Since the municipality has two speakers, Solomon Mkhombo from the ANC confirmed that there was a commotion and it was sparked by Nkosi, who returned to office under questionable circumstances.
Mkhombo said: “There was a dispute and Nkosi had to leave the office. Our stance is that we are still in the office together with our administration which is led by Dr Ntuli. Our main worry is that the illegal council meeting which was held on Tuesday decided to give Nkosi a … irregular month contract.”
Nkosi said it was true that on Wednesday he went to work and he said it was after he was appointed by the new IFP political leadership.
However, he denied that there was a court order that reinstated him. He said his contract expired at the end of February this year and he came back because the “ruling party of the district” hired him.
“I was brought back by the ruling party of the region to act as MM (municipal manager) for three months,” he said.
Nkosi confirmed that Ntuli found him occupying the municipal manager’s office, and he left voluntarily to avoid chaos.
“I avoided the confrontation by vacating the office. I am still the MM and I am waiting for those who hired me to tell me what to do next,” he said.
Innocent Mkhwanazi, the leader of the IFP in the region, confirmed that their new administration hired Nkosi to act for three months after they fired Ntuli.
“We can confirm that we as the council in power employed Nkosi to act on the position for three months,” Mkhwanazi said.
Of the 33 seats in council, the IFP occupies 18 while the ANC has 11. The rest were taken by smaller parties like the EFF and the NFP.
The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal said it was monitoring the worrisome situation in the district municipality where the power tussle has crippled operations.
“Both Mtubatuba and Umkhanyakude are still under intervention in terms of Section 139(1)(b). We are currently monitoring the situation going on and one-on-one engagements were conducted with both municipalities to ensure that both municipalities continue to render their services,” spokesperson of the department, Nonala Ndlovu, said.