eThekwini councillors refuse to step aside
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DURBAN - ANC eThekwini councillors who were supposed to have stepped aside are still at work there.
The Daily News has learnt that none of the seven councillors who were part of the list of 13 members sent by the provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli’s office to Luthuli house have honoured the party’s resolution.
In terms of the decision taken by the party's national executive committee on March 29, all party members who were facing serious crimes should stop representing the organisation in their positions in government and in the party. In a media briefing two weeks ago, Ntuli announced that councillors had agreed to step aside. However, those who spoke to the Daily News on Wednesday and asked not to be named, confirmed that they were still doing their work as usual and never stopped, even the day after Ntuli’s announcement.
They said no one from the municipality had told them not to carry on with their work as councillors.
“As I speak to you, I am on my way to the city hall for a meeting as a councillor. I am continuing with my work. We have a constitutional duty to serve our people who elected us into office. We cannot just abandon people without a proper process,” said the councillor.
Another councillor who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was at his ward office doing council work. He, too, said nobody had told him to stop doing his job as a councillor.
Political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu, a political lecturer at UCT, said removing a councillor or a member of Parliament was not something a party could wake up and execute easily. He said there was a lengthy legal process which had a lot of constitutional imperatives.
Another analyst, Dr Ralph Mathekga said there was no “step aside” law. Either the ward councillor died, was fired by the party or somehow became incapacitated. He said after that, the municipality had to write to the IEC, which in turn would declare the seat vacant and call for a by-election.
“Remember, ward councillors are directly elected by the people who are not necessarily party members so no one can just remove or suspend such councillors. There must be a process because the law says a by-election must be held to replace the councillor, which is not the ANC’s intention in this step aside thing. The ANC may find it easy when it comes to PR councillors and MPs because they are serving at the behest of the party,” said Mathekga.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said the party allowed councillors and MPs to remain in their seats but not to speak in meetings on behalf of the party.
When asked about ward councillors who were continuing with their work in their wards, Ntombela said he was not aware of such cases and the regional leadership should attend to those councillors. ANC chief whip in eThekwini metro Sibongiseni Mkhize said all party councillors were doing their job as normal. He said his office would only act against councillors once it received formal communication from the political leaders, which had not yet happened.
The party in the province initially sent 13 names of the members who were supposed to have stepped aside before the April 30 deadline but only deputy provincial chairperson, Mike Mabuyakhulu respected the deadline and left his office.
The councillors are Mondli Mthembu, Zoe Shabalala, Thembelihle de Lange, Sithenjwa Nyawose, Bheko Phewa, Sduduzo Khuzwayo and Mthokozisi Nojiyeza. They are all facing corruption charges with Zandile Gumede in relation to the R430 million Durban Solid Waste tender.