Durban - After a political and administrative paralysis for almost two weeks in the Umkhanyakude District Municipality, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has called an urgent meeting to resolve the impasse.
In a letter to the speaker of the municipality, MEC Sipho Hlomuka asked that all councillors gather at the council chamber in the town of Mkuze for an urgent meeting.
The letter does not specify which speaker it was addressed to as the council currently has two speakers, mayors, deputy mayors and acting municipal managers.
The duplication started on May 3 this year when the IFP in the district municipality claimed that it has kicked out the ANC’s Siphile Mdaka, his deputy Zodwa Mtshali (from the NFP) and speaker Solomon Mkhombo, through a vote of no confidence.
In their places, the IFP, through a vote, announced that Tim Moodley is the new mayor, Innocent Mkhwanazi is his deputy and Petros Madlopha is the new speaker.
Immediately after grabbing power, the IFP administration announced that it has suspended the acting municipal manager, Dr Siyabonga Ntuli and replaced him with Mxolisi Nkosi.
The tussle over the control of the municipality in KwaZulu-Natal’s far north was sparked by a Pietermaritzburg High Court ruling of April 19, 2022, where KwaZulu-Natal Deputy Judge President, Isaac Madondo, ruled that the Mtubatuba Local Municipality sitting of November last year was invalid and set it aside.
That then gave the IFP three more seats at the district level and it used those seats to oust the ANC without the help of its coalition partners, the EFF and the DA.
However, Mkhombo said the meeting was illegal and all decisions taken out of it are illegal. He said they are still in office with the administration.
The digging in of the ANC deployees and its coalition partners then created a paralysis and a standoff that has seen the municipality unable to do anything.
Now Hlomuka has intervened to find a solution.
“The Department has been made aware of leadership disputes at the municipality where confusion prevails on who holds which position. This has the potential to severely disrupt service delivery.
“It is common cause that the Provincial Government, particularly the Department of the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, has a Constitutional Mandate to support municipalities (Section 154) and to monitor municipalities (Section 155).
“In line with the above mandate and the circumstances prevailing at the municipality, all councillors of the Umkhanyakude Municipality are invited to an urgent meeting intended to discuss and find solutions to the reported challenges,” Hlomuka wrote to the speaker.
Hlomuka’s spokesperson, Senzo Mzila, when asked to confirm the meeting, said the MEC time and again meets with stakeholders.
“The MEC conducts meetings with a number of municipal councils as part of the department's general oversight over the sphere of local government,” Mzila said.